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Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, Thailand

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Published by M.G. Edwards
A travelogue with photos about Wat Mahathat, the ruin of a Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand best known for the head of a Buddha statue in a banyan tree.
A travelogue with photos about Wat Mahathat, the ruin of a Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand best known for the head of a Buddha statue in a banyan tree.

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Published by: M.G. Edwards on Sep 13, 2012
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09/28/2012

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© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved.
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This is the final installment of a five-part series about Ayutthaya, Thailand. This article features Wat Mahathat, the ruin of Buddhist temple dating back to the  AyutthayaKingdom  period (1350-1767). Previous posts discussed the historic City of Ayutthaya;  the temple ruins of  Wat Chaiwatthanaram;Buddhist monastery Wat Phu Khao Thong ,  and temple ruins of  Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon.
 
Wat Mahathat, or the “Monastery of the Great Relic” according to the website 
,is a former Buddhist temple located in the heart of historic Ayutthaya not farfrom the old royal palace. It is one of the most famous sites in the Ayutthaya HistoricalPark . Wat Mahathat is best known
for the photogenic Buddha’s head embedded in the trunk of 
a banyan tree. The well-preserved face with a serene look leaves a lasting impression.Experts believe that the sandstone head either fell from a statue and landed in the tree orwas left there by a thief who could not haul it away. Although most visitors come to seethe famous head, the temple itself is just as interesting.
 
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved.
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The temple served as the religious center of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and was the seat of the supreme Buddhist patriarch of  Siam (early Thailand). It once housed relics captured during military campaigns in Cambodia and elsewhere. During the annual 
 (royalbarge) ceremony, the Ayutthaya kings sailed in a procession of barges down a canal fromthe palace to the temple, where they would disembark, pray, and make offerings to thegods.Wat Mahathat was one of the largest and most important temple complexes in theAyutthaya Kingdom. Historical records indicate that it was either built by King Uthong  (Ramathibodhi I, 1350-69), King Borommaracha I (1370-88), or King Ramesuan (1388- 95). The site fell into disrepair in the 1630s and 1730s before the Burmese razed it in1767. Many of the
 prang
and 
 or
chedi
(spires) collapsed after years of decay.Efforts have been underway since 1956 to preserve the site.Like Wat Chaiwattanaram,the Khmer-style Wat Mahathat was built in the shape of five- pointed structure(quincunx)with a large central 
 (tower) more than 50 meters (165

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