Wat Chaiwatthanaram Temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand
Updated: Jul 19
Exploring Thailand's rich cultural heritage is best experienced through its awe-inspiring temples, and one of the most remarkable among them is the Chaiwatthanaram Temple. Situated within the Historical Ruins of Ayutthaya, this temple holds significant importance due to its location and the symbolism it embodies within Thai culture. It presents a profound perspective on how to perceive the world.
As the foremost temple within the entire Ayutthaya complex, Wat Chaiwatthanaram stands as a testament to the architectural grandeur of the past. It has managed to retain its magnificence throughout the years, making it one of the most photographed icons within the historical site.
Commissioned by King Prasat Thong in 1630, the temple, also known as the Temple of the Long and Glorious Reign, adheres to the distinctive Khmer architectural style prevalent in the region. The main Prang, soaring nearly 40 meters high, along with various secondary towers or Chedis interconnected by walls, adorned with statues of Buddha (although most were decapitated following the Burmese invasion that marked the downfall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1767).
The significance of Wat Chaiwatthanaram aligns with the pinnacle of Ayutthaya's cultural and religious splendor. In 1991, UNESCO recognized its importance by declaring it a World Heritage Site. Located on the western side of the complex, the temple sits gracefully on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, enhancing its scenic appeal.
Notably, the architectural layout of Chaiwatthanaram Temple symbolizes Buddhism's perspective on the world. For instance, the central tower represents the Meru mountain, the axis mundi, while the four surrounding towers signify the four continents inhabited by humanity. Additionally, the surrounding passage embodies the outer boundary of the world, referred to as the iron mountains.
Visiting the Chaiwatthanaram Temple is highly recommended, despite its relatively distant location within the park. It stands out as one of the newest and best-preserved structures. Several convenient transportation options are available to reach the temple. You can opt for a van or minivan, conveniently accessible at the Terminal Minivans Victory Monument.
If you prefer traveling by bus, you can find suitable options at the Northern Bus Terminal. Alternatively, the Hua Iampong train station offers first, second, and third-class transportation, albeit taking slightly longer than other modes of transport. Another unique option is taking a boat, adding an adventurous element to your journey.