The first of January is drawing near. This is an excellent opportunity for Buddhists in Thailand to make merit as an auspicious way to begin the New Year. If there is a chance, most of them prefer to visit nine temples within a day. The reason for choosing "nine" is this: Thais pronounce the number "9" เก้า as "kao" which is a homophone of the word ก้าว "kao" which means to step and to progress. Thus, they believe that the worship they show to the Buddha at nine sacred temples will bring prosperity to their lives.
This year, Thaiways would like to invite you to pay homage to nine temples in Ayutthaya by taking advantage of the project Ayutthaya's Great Blessings: Paying Homage to Nine Temples launched by the provincial administration in cooperation with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The locations of the temples are close to each other. This enhances the possibility of going to nine temples within one day. Apart from having a chance to make great merit, worshippers will also get opportunities to appreciate Thai cultural heritage that cannot be valued. If you would like more, there are 24 other temples under the project to choose from. The list and details of the temples are printed in a tiny booklet, on each page of which, the emblem of a temple will be stamped when you pay a visit to it.
The booklet can be obtained free of charge at: the Ayutthaya Tourist Centre (old provincial administration's building), the Information Counter of Ayutthaya Park Department Store (1st floor), and at hotels and restaurants showing the poster of the project. After you complete paying homage to any nine temples in the project, you will have the right to get an amulet in the shape of a bronze medal, and if you complete visiting all 33 temples, you will receive a gold medal and be entitled to winning the biggest prize from TAT in a lucky draw.
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon Great blessings:
Great blessings: Victory over enemies, forgiveness and being the beloved
Located in the Southeast of the Ayutthaya Muang Island, the temple was established in 1357 AD in the reign of King U-thong (1350-1369). The Great Chedi Chai Mongkhon, a token of King Naresuan's victory over the Crown Prince of Burma in the duel on elephant back, was erected later in the reign of King Naresuan (1590-1605) at the same time of the temple renovation. Phra Phuttha Chaiya Mongkhon in the ordination hall is one of the most sacred Buddha images in Ayutthaya.
2. Wat Phanan Choeng Great blessings:
Great blessings: Smooth-running business, prosperity in one's job
This is a Mahayana temple situated to the Southeast of the Ayutthaya Muang Island. It is presumed to be built before the establishment of the Ayutthaya kingdom. The huge maravijaya* Buddha image (height 19 m./width 20.17 m) in the ordination hall, Luang Pho To (the big Buddha) or Sampokong, is greatly revered not only by the Thais and the Chinese-Thais but also by the Chinese from abroad. This is because most worshippers have found that their business and trading have become prosperous after paying homage to Luang Pho To.
*Maravijava (conquering mara) posture is a sitting position with legs crossed, the left hand on the lap and the right hand on the right knee with fingers pointing down to the ground.
3. The Vihara of Phra Mongkhon Bophit Great blessings:
Great blessings: Prosperity in trade, success in one's job
Situated in the south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet on the Ayutthaya Muang Island, the monastery has no monks residing. The principal bronze Buddha image, Phra Mongkhon Bophit, is presumed to be built in the reign of King Sanphet VIII or King Tiger (1703-0708). In 1767, when Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese, the vicinity of the monastery was set on fire to remove the gold that gilded the stupas there. Phra Mongkhon Bophit was burnt too.
The right arm from the shoulder fell off. A few years ago, the Fine Arts Department discovered lots of small Buddha images inside the left chest.
4. Wat Thammikkarat Great blessings:
Great blessings: Being the beloved, good health
Situated in the east of the site of ancient royal palace, the temple has existed since the reign of King Borom Trai Lokkanat (1448-1488).
There is a stupa encircled by lion figures, reflecting the Khmer influence. Legend has it that Queen Ubon Dhevi of this king asked the gods for the recovery of her son. The prayer was granted. Thus, she erected the reclining Buddha image with a length of 12 metres there. Both soles were gilded with gold leaf and decorated with stained glass.
5. Wat Phutthai Sawan Great blessings:
Great blessings: Being the beloved, invulnerability, good health
The temple is located in the southern side of the Chao Phraya River, opposite the Ayutthaya Muang Island. It was established in the reign of King U-thong (1350-1369). At that time, the vicinity was called "wiang lek" and used to be the palace of the king.
6. Wat Kasattrathirat Great blessings:
Great blessings: Being the beloved, invulnerability, prosperity in one's jobs
Located on the Chao Phraya riverside, to the west of Ayutthaya Muang Island, this ancient temple was renovated in the first reign of the Rattanakosin Period (1782-1809). The double bai simas* of the ordination hall were magnificently carved.
*A bai sima is a heart-shaped stone placed outside a temple to mark its boundary. Usually, there are eight of them in eight directions. As for the royal temples, there are sixteen of them.
7. Wat Tha Ka Rong Great blessings:
Great blessings: A great merit of worshipping the triple gem of the Buddha
The temple is located near the Chao Phraya riverside to the west of the Ayutthaya Muang Island. It was built before Ayutthaya became capital. There is no evidence telling who the founder was. The ancient principal Buddha image in the ordination hall, Luang Pho Rattana Mongkhon, is highly revered by the villagers.
8. Wat Na Phra Mane Great blessings:
Great blessings: Prosperity, being the beloved
Situated in the north of the Ayutthaya Muang Island, it is the only temple in Ayutthaya that was not destroyed during the siege of 1767, because it was used as headquarters of the Burmese invaders. The ordination hall has no windows like other temples erected in the Ayutthaya period. Instead, it has several small openings on the walls with carved stone bars for ventilation.
9. Wat Nakhon Luang Great blessings:
Great blessings: Being the beloved, strong health, safety from all weapons
Situated on the Pa Sak riverside in Amphoe Nakhon Luang (20 km from the provincial town). In the Ayutthaya period, the area was part of the royal route for all kings who travelled to pay homage to Phra Phuttha Bat (the Buddha's footprint) in Saraburi province. In the same vicinity of the temple, Nakhon Luang Palace which was used as royal residence for all kings and royal families is situated. It is presumed to be built in the reign of King Song Tham (1610-1628) and was renovated in the reign of King Prasat Thong (1629-1656).
If you have some more free days and are interested in history, you are recommended to pay a visit to other temples as well. Consult your travel agent or advertisers in Thaiways for a personalised trip.
How to get to Ayutthaya
Travelling by private car is the most suitable way to pay homage to these temples.
From Bangkok :
- Use Highway 1 (Phahon Yothin Rd.,), after going past Pratunam Phra-in, drive along Highway 32. Then turn left and go along Highway 309 to reach Ayutthaya.
- Use Bangkok-Nonthaburi-Pathum Thani route (Highway 306), when reaching an intersection at Pathum Thani Bridge, turn onto Highway 347. After that, drive along Highway 3309, going past Bangsai Folk Arts & Crafts Centre, Bang Pa-in County and then arrive at Ayutthaya Muang County.
- For more information about the rules to redeem the souvenirs and the travel routes, please contact Tourism Authority of Thailand Central Office: Region 6, Tel: 0 3524 6076-7
- We in Thaiways are thankful to TAT Central Office for giving us an opportunity to pay homage to nine temples and providing us with useful information.
For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see Romanization System of the Thai Language.