Wat Phra Mahathat (Ayutthaya)

Wat Mahathat was a grand temple, likes Wat Ratchaburana. Wat Mahathat is located to the east of the grand palace. It is the royal temple and most scared in Ayutthaya during glorious time. Buddha relics were enshrined in the Mahathat Chedi(the principal pagoda). This monestery was once the residence of the Supreme Patriarch. The royal chronicle says that it was built in the reign of King Boroma-Rachathirat I in 1374 and completed in the reign of King Ramesuan. The main prang where the relic of the Lord Buddha was kept and found is originally 50 metres high. When King Songtham (1610-1628 A.D.) was in power the main prang (Khmer-style tower) collapsed. The restoration work on the prang was probably completed in the reign of King Prasatthong (1630-1655 A.D.) During the restoration the height of the prang was considerably increased. Wat Mahathat was restored once again during the reign of King Borommakot (1732-1758 A.D.) when four porticos were added to the main prang. In 1767 A.D. when Ayutthaya was sacked the wat was burnt and has since then been in ruins. Wat Mahathat was a royal monastery and served as the seat of the Sangaraja. the head of the Buddhist monks of the Kamavasi Sect, since the time of the Mahathera Thammakanlayan, who was a contemporary of King Borommarachthriat I, and who built the wat. Wat Mahathat used to house an unusual Buddha image made of green stone in the form of Buddha seated on a throne. In the Rattanakosin Period King Rama III had the image moved to Wat Naphrameru. At present only the base can be seen as the top was broken down in 1911 in the reign of King Rama VI. A large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese. Several Leaning Prangs of Ayutthaya are still feebly defying gravity though, and the rows of headless Buddhas are atmospheric. This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. When taking pictures of you and the Buddha head, make sure you sit on your knees to show respect, as it is considered holy by Thais. There is no clear historical evidence of this Lord Buddha’s head, but It is assumed that when Ayutthaya was defeated by Burmese army in B.E. 2310, the Mahathat temple was set on fire and entirely destroyed and as its result most of the images and parts fell to the ground. The temple was deserted for more than a hundred years and many trees had grown at the spot covering the head or in B.E. 2500 when the Department of Fine Art undertook restoration might have gathered all the remains but could not complete. Second assumption is a thief might have tried to steal but due its weight could not carry it across the wall or someone had come to the scene and the thief left it there until the tree covered it as we see at present.

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