Hello everyone. Christmas has come and gone, and now I’m just waiting for the New Year. Well, it’s a series of Ayutthaya, Thailand today. I don’t know who said it, but I’d like to write about one of the six major Buddhist sites in Ayutthaya, Wat Ratcha Burana.
- Overview and history of Wat Ratchaburana
- Points of interest at Wat Ratcha Burana
- Map to Wat Ratchaburana
- Eating at a restaurant before visiting the temple
Overview and history of Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana, which translates as “the temple of Royal Restoration”, is said to have been built in 1424 by King Saam Phraya (Borom Racha II), the eighth king of Ayutthaya, near Wat Mahathat as a memorial to his two brothers. At the time it was built, it was located on the banks of a canal and could be accessed by boats operating on the canal.
The prince built this Wat Ratchaburana on the spot where his two brothers were cremated, and a chedis was built on the spot where the two brothers died. The temple was largely destroyed during the Burmese invasion in 1767, and jewelry, artwork, and gold were looted.
The reason why Wat Ratchaburana is called the “Cursed Temple
The reason behind the construction of Wat Ratchaburana was to appease the spirits of the two kings who had fallen together, so the legend that “the first king to visit this temple would die early” was passed down falsely, and none of the subsequent kings visited the temple.
Points of interest at Wat Ratcha Burana
Prang (tower enshrinement hall)
In the center of the temple stands a prang (pagoda-shaped enshrinement hall) in the shape of a large corn cob rising up on a hill. Some of the majestic stucco (decorative stucco) decorations are also carved as sculptures of mythical creatures such as Garuda and the multi-headed Naga snake.
A steep staircase on the east side leads to the basement, which is also where the artifacts displayed in the nearby Chao Sam Phraya National Museum were found.
Wat Ratchaburana was built according to the Khmer style design concept, and its design resembles that of the early Angkorian mountain temples. The chapel (Viharn) also faces the east, the direction of the rising sun.
The center of the temple, where the prang (pagoda enshrinement hall) stands, is a large Khmer-style structure symbolizing Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology. The prang is surrounded by four Sri Lankan-style stupas and a cloister surrounding a courtyard.
Later, the ubosot (main hall) was built and a large assembly hall (viharn) was constructed with only the walls still standing.
Avatars on the side of the prang (pagoda)
On the side of the prang (pagoda-shaped enshrinement hall) stands a Buddha image. There are few references to these Buddha images, but one theory says that they resemble the goddess Avatar, who is often seen in Angkor Wat, the center of Khmer culture. The craftsman who made it was a prisoner of the Khmer dynasty (the Khmer dynasty was overthrown by King Borom Racha II), and it is said to be a sign of his strong will not to give in to Ayutthaya despite being a prisoner.
【Reference】A Cursed Temple? Wat Ratchaburana [JPN]（ https://www.ritadacosta.com/antiquity/WatRachaburana.html）
The inside of a prang (pagoda-shaped enshrinement hall), open to the public for the first time in Japan.
When I visited this Wat Ratchaburana in September 2019, I was even able to go inside the prang. There wasn’t much information in Japanese about the inside of this place either, so this may have been the first time a camera was brought in as a Japanese. However, even though I was inside the prang, the stairs to the lower level were closed as you can see in the picture.
In 1957, thieves broke into the basement and stole many valuable artifacts, including votive tablets, golden royal regalia, jewelry, and Buddha statues. However, the thieves were later caught and some of the items were recovered safely.
Further into the prang, there was a small room. Inside the prang, there were two small rooms of about 3 square meters each, called KU, above and below, which were decorated with wall paintings. I was told that the upper KU had a domed ceiling, but I lost track of pointing the camera at the ceiling.
As mentioned above, the inside of the prang was robbed in 1957, but during the restoration of the temple in 1958, as many as 10,000 golden products were discovered in ku.
【Reference】Wat Ratchaburana [JPN]
Chedis and Vihaan
Surrounding the main building are numerous chedis of various shapes and sizes, as well as several auxiliary viharns.
A prang (pagoda enshrinement hall) over the Instagrammable gate.
The prang (pagoda enshrinement hall) seen from the east and west gates of Wat Ratchaburana is as Instagrammable as the Amanohashidate seen from between the gates. The first photo is the east gate taken from Chikung Street, and the second is the west gate.
The scars of war with the Burmese army
This Wat Ratchaburana, like its neighbor Wat Mahathat, was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767. Remnants of that time still remain in the temple. As with the headless Buddha statues, if you look carefully, you can see that some of the statues are missing half of their faces, as in the first photo, which gives you an idea of the brutality of the Burmese army at that time.
The chapel (Viharn) on the east side of the temple, close to Chikung Street.
The boat (preceptor hall) on the west side of the temple. It may not be due to the war, but the foundation is wavy.
Map to Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana is the northern neighbor of Wat Mahathat. A short walk away is Wat Thammikarat. It’s no exaggeration to say that a tour of Ayutthaya’s temples starts here or at Wat Mahathat.
At the entrance, you can see a map of other temples in Ayutthaya. This is great for those who came without a plan. Also, you can see a model of the Ayutthaya temple in pure white.
Opening hours and fees
- Opening hours: 8:00 – 18:00, light-up hours: 19:00 – 21:00
- Entrance fee: 50 baht
Eating at a restaurant before visiting the temple
To the east across the road from Wat Ratchaburana is a local restaurant district, so you may want to grab a bite to eat before going to see the temple.
Once you get to Ayutthaya, the food lineup is a little different from Bangkok. There are few refreshing dishes such as Khao Mangai, and the cuisine is more like Myanmar and Chiang Mai. I think Pad Thai is still on the refreshing side. Below is the menu.
- Pad Thai Vegan and Egg: 50 Baht
- Pad Thai vegan: 50 baht
- Pad Thai pork: 60 Baht
- Pad Thai chicken: 60 Baht
- Rice: 10 baht
The noodle menu actually came with a pile of vegetables, which is familiar in Vietnam and Myanmar. At this price, it’s a pretty good deal for all you can put in. I didn’t order any noodles that day because I had Pad Thai. Below is the menu and how to order.
Step 1 “Choose your soup.
- Chicken soup: 40 Baht
- Vegetable soup: 35 baht
Step 2: “Choose your noodles.
- Thin rice noodles
- White rice noodles
- Rice noodles
- Egg noodles
- Instant noodles
- Glass noodles
- Fresh coconut: 50 baht
▽A pile of vegetables in the cafeteria in front of the Bagan Archaeological Museum▽
I came back for the second day. Of course we ordered noodles to replenish our vegetable supply.