After the total destruction of the old capital by the Burmese in 1767, from which
Wat Chai Watthanaram was not spared, the temple was deserted. Theft, sale of bricks
from the ruins and the beheading of the Buddha statues were common. Only in 1987
did the Thai Department of Fine Arts start restoring the site. In 1992 it was opened
to the public.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram was a royal temple where the king and his successors performed
religious ceremonies. Princes and princess were cremated here, including King Boromakot's
son Chaofa Thammathibet
The Wat Chaiwatthanaram structure reflects the Buddhist world view, as it is described
already in the Traiphum Phra Ruang, the three worlds of the King Ruang, of the 14th
century: The big Prang Prathan that stands in the centre symbolizes the mountain
Meru which consists the central axis of the traditional world Around it lie the
four continents ( the four small Prangs ) that swim in the four directions in the
world sea On one of the continents, the Chomphutawip , the humans live. The rectangular
passage is the outer border of the world, the Iron Mountains.
This temple is worth the price. One warning though: Take heed before climbing the
staircase leading to the central Khmer-style prang. Many tourists find it frighteningly
steep when descending back down. The steps can be narrow and dangerous, and there
is not much inside the 35 meter high tower that is worth the effort. Thai tourists
should take special note that Queen Sirikit had the Tumnak Siriyalai Palace build
directly across the river from Wat Chaiwatthanaram.
Details: Admission to the temple is 20 Baht and opening hours are 08:00 to 18:00.
How to get there: You can reach the temple’s ruins by bicycle if you have hired one,
and a Tuk Tuk fare will be in the 30 Baht range from the town centre. Long tail boat
services are available from Chankasem Palace at around 350 Baht for the full one
hour round trip.