Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 0800-1700
After a couple of minutes, we headed down to Wat Mahathat and I can tell you that this place is the most beautiful ruin that I have seen in Ayutthaya. The ruin was drenched in a sweet yet eerie feeling and you can feel the layers and layers of history that this place holds. While the front of the temple seemed serene and beautiful, as you took your step back into the back, you can tell that Wat Mahathat has more stories to tell than what you saw at the entrance.
Before we continue our journey, one might wonder what purpose does Wat Maha That served. According to Ayutthaya History (the link auto-downloads a video about Ayutthaya so be wary) back in the old days when ‘lols’ and duckfacing wasn’t a thing, it served as a venue for royal ceremonies and celebrations. The Kings of Ayutthaya would even organize an annual royal procession where they would provide some offerings to their gods and pray for the wellbeing of their country.
After reaching the first part of the ruin, a platform with a buddha on top stood before me. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The buddha appeared as if he was shining under the sun as it sat amongst a group of headless statues. It was as if it served a meaning, to persevere despite all odds against you but that is one meaning I made up myself.
You see, the statues were not originally sculptured in such a way where they were headless. During the Burmese-Siamese war, the temple was vandalized by the Burmese army. They removed most of the Buddha statues’ heads and it remained abandoned until the 1950s where a project started to restore and preserve the ancient ruins.
This was what I was most anticipated and excited to see in my journey in Ayutthaya. The buddha’s head appears to be slowly engulfed by the roots of the trees! What was interesting about this was that there were some theories as to how this happened. According to “Buddha Heads”, firstly, as anyone would imagine is that after the temple was abandoned during the Burmese-Siamese war, the tree grew around the head of the Buddha. Another theory suggests that the Buddha head was stolen from the main temple in Ayutthaya and the thief left the head against a wall as he could not move the head any further from that area. Due to this, the tree roots started growing and entwine around it (Williams C, 2009).
I will say one thing, though, despite the fact that all traces of history such as where the buddha stone head originated from, if it was indeed stolen, the thief has made a spectacular masterpiece!
This was taken from the backside of the Wat, it was relatively quiet and peaceful. It would’ve been scary at night seeing these headless statues, though!
At the end of the journey, I have to say that if I ever get a chance to visit Ayutthaya again, this particular Wat is where I’d wanna visit gain the most! I’ll probably spend double the time we did when we were here. We took around 45 minutes to look around.
- Williams, C. (2009). Thailand (1st ed., p. 198). Footscray, Vic.: Lonely Planet.