Ayutthaya: The Old Kingdom

For many foreigners the name conjures up irresistible images of lost oriental kingdoms and tropical splendour. -Emma Larkin 

Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was once the seat of power in Thailand—it was the capital of Siam until a Burmese invasion destroyed it the 1760’s, at the climax of a 14-month long siege. The city was burned, and along with it much of the art, literature, and historical records that defined an apparent golden age of Thai history: the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

What remains is a collection of temples tombs, and ruins. Walking amongst them is a unique and at times overwhelming experience. I was at all times affected by thoughts such as this: Where I now step, once stepped kings.

It was incredible to stand in a literal slice of history. I have rarely been so directly faced with the age of our world. It is so old. Our species is so old. I am so young.

Instead of narrating the entire trip as I normally would, I want to let the photos tell the story.

Ayuttha

You can see all of Ayutthaya in this picture. Gorgeous red bricks. The remains of a statue that was once important. A hint of continued life within the ruin: the shroud of orange cloth that surrounds the ghost of history.

wish

Wishing stones stacked at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, just between the tombs of two Kings of Siam.

Ruin

Once upon a time, this glorious area had walls and columns, and chanting monks, and statues that still had arms and heads. Remarkably, centuries after the slaughter and ruination, it still has a lively magic.

temple

Not a ruin, but this temple near Wat Phra Si Sanphet houses one of the world’s largest bronze Buddha statues.

Buddha

One of the world’s biggest Buddha statues.

pile

This massive pile of bricks was once home to the monks of Wat Mahathat. There is no longer an entrance.

detail

One of the largest remnants of the detailing that once encased all of the brickwork.

lean

A leaning pagoda.

Buddha

During the Burmese invasion, the head was knocked off a statue of Buddha, and landed nearby. Over the centuries, the roots of a bodhi tree grew around the head. Now Buddha is encased within the tree.

chedi

This chedi is a tomb. Buried within is Ramathibodi II, one of the ancient Kings of Siam who ruled from Ayutthaya. To get a sense of scale, notice Hannah at the bottom.

pagoda

A pagoda in Wat Mahathat.

Ayutthaya6

Hannah stands in the ruins of Wat Mahathat.

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3 thoughts on “Ayutthaya: The Old Kingdom

  1. Hi, hon. I enjoyed the photo documentary…pictures really do tell wonderful stories. Loved the photo of the statue with the trees growing up around it. Looks like a fantastic excursion. So happy that you’re absorbing so much history there. Love you!

  2. Thanks again, Paul. Your comments and the photos are wonderful. The details in the stone carvings are unbelievable. Can you imagine the hours and hours of tedious workmanship that went into these structures. And now, terrorists destroy them without a bit of remorse. Keep on preserving this history. It is, indeed, remarkable. And keep on sharing. You are remarkable. Love, G&P >

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