February 27, 2015

Thai Memoirs : Exploring The Ancient Ruins Of Ayuthaya

In short this can be termed as an unexpected overseas trip. Just a couple of weeks before got to know that I had to travel to Bangkok for a conference and later on came to know that my wife would be in between jobs during the exact time period. So what more, without much ado we decided to go for an official trip cum personal vacation. During my quick research found an interesting fact about Thailand, that it is the only country in South East Asia not to be occupied by any of the colonial forces, woah that needed some serious strategy and negotiation skills on the part of the Thai people :). One downside of this is that majority of the local residents do not speak much of English or any other popular foreign language. Only those working in the tourism industry would be able to manage some broken English at the most.

Interior Of a traditional Thai Home

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

 Since this trip was not planned ahead in time, the ticket prices were not exactly cheap and to top it up it was a peak season in Thailand especially for the Western tourists. We had 6 days in hand including a weekend, in which we decided to head towards Krabi, which won over other contenders such as Phuket and Pattaya based on our personal interests of nature's beauty over night life, activities etc, which the latter 2 places are associated with. The first 4 days we spent exploring the areas in and around Bangkok and this included the ancient city of Ayuthaya.

Landed on the wee hours of 10th Feb in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. Thailand seems like the best overseas vacation spot for Indians considering the number of Indians lining up for the Visa on arrival counter at the airport. It took as nearly 1.5 hours to get our VISA and from there we took a taxi to our Novotel Impact hotel which was in the other end of the city. Meanwhile we got the first glimpse of the city. The entire stretch from the airport to our hotel was elevated and I was really impressed with their infrastructure, even though we encountered slow moving traffic more or less for the entire stretch. It looked like Thailand was ahead of India by atleast a decade or two in terms of infrastructure development. And one more observation is even during a traffic jam/slow moving traffic no one really honks like they do here in India and they strictly follow lane discipline.

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Wat Phrasi Sanpet
Landed at our hotel after some time. Since it was still early for our checkin time of 2 pm we decided to freshen up at the hotel spa. And after depositing our luggage at the counter we decided to go sight seeing to the ancient city of Ayuthaya 60 kms from here. Not before we had our first encounter with authentic Thai food of some "glass noodles" and even though the server assured us that it was pure veg , we highly doubted it :P. Ayuthaya was the predecessor of Bangkok, being the Royal capital of Thailand (or Siam as it was called before) until the neighboring Burmese invaded it and looted it and hence resulting in its complete destruction. Therefore the remaining ruins reminded me a lot of Hampi. During its peak between 14th to 18th century it was the largest city in the world !!!!!!. Hence after this attack in the 18th century the King decided to build a new capital and hence Bangkok was born.

Ruins of The Grand Palace

We booked a taxi for the entire duration of sight seeing from our hotel which costed us 1500 Thai Baht. Left the Novotel Impact hotel at around 10, and reached the place at around 11. This area is actually an island surrounded by rivers on all the directions. Once in the centre of the ruins we decided to explore on foot. Other options to explore are cycles, elephant rides (not my cup of tea though :( ) , local tuk tuk rides. We explored lot of Wats (thai word for temples) including  Phra Mongkhon Bhophit, Wat Phrasi Sanpet, Ruins of the Grand palace, Wat Phra Ram etc. (I had to look up again in the internet to recall the names :P )

Wat Phra Ram
Phra Mongkhon Bophit had a huge Buddha Statue , the biggest I have ever seen. Little did I know that the size of Buddha statues will keep on increasing as our trip progresses. Wat Phrasi Sanpet has the 3 sphires which has now become the symbol of Ayuthaya. In front of this monument is the ruins of the Grand Palace. There is nothing much remaining apart from the load pillars , but the dimensions of the site gives an idea of the dimension of the medieval palace. Nearby there is a miniature scale model which gives an idea of what the city of Ayuthaya used to look like before its downfall. Further we went to see the Wat Phra Ram, which looked a lot like the world famous Ankhor Wat of Cambodia.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

After exploring the structures within the island we got out of it and explored other ones including the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and Wat Phanan Choeng, both of which were quite impressive. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol had a huge set of steep stairs climbing upto the central shrine and one gets a birds eye view of the entire Ayuthaya region. Near this temple complex is a leaning Buddha Statue and surrounded by a lot of smaller Buddha statues clad with saffron cloth which looks very pleasing to the eyes. Wat Phanan Choeng now had the biggest ever Buddha statue we have seen till now , overtaking the one at Phra Mongkhon Bophit. After this we decided to return back.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

One more place which we missed was the floating market which we couldnt go due to insufficient time, but later on came to know of the bad reviews given to this place, hence no regrets . One more thing to keep in mind is that majority of the temples/palaces in Thailand have a last entry of 3.30 pm. We returned back to our hotel by 5 pm, ending the first day of sightseeing in Thailand. Overall it was an interesting place to explore, but surprisingly we didnt find any Indian tourists at all !!!!!. Guess this is not part of the popular Indian tourist circuit which comprises mainly of Pattaya-Phuket-Bangkok.

Wat Phanan Choeng
And if you are still wondering, the name Ayuthaya is actually derived from the word Ayodhya. Talk of ancient Indian influences :) . 


  1. Very enthralling and mystic place for people interested in ancient architecture !!


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