Wat Maha That in Ayutthaya: A Temple. NOT an Abandoned Brickworks!

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(Edited)

You can tell from the title that I'm rather uncomfortable with this post as I enter the domain of our resident Hive Temple lover and expert wattologist, @macchiata who I hope will be tempted to hop over to Thailand and do this temple justice one day.

Until then however, you will have to make do with the slightly very irreverent @nathen007 version. I've pissed off every other religion in the past so it's about time I upset the Buddhists.

Enjoy!

First thing is to give a little mention to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is one of the most historical and spiritual places in Thailand and for a while, was the capital of the country back when it was called Siam. Previously though, the whole of what we know as Thailand was called the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. If you're a history buff, the whole area has a fascinating and complex past so I'll drop a few links at the end of the post for some further reading. It's also been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991 and is one of the most visited parts of Thailand, sitting as it does just 60km North of Bangkok and attracting tourists to its laid-back and chilled out vibe and open spaces as much it's plentiful history.

The ancient part of town sits on an island in the Chao Praya river and was chosen as it was above the tidal part of the river and as such, was unable to be attacked by warships from foreign nations who were not averse to smidge of colonialism. Ahem. Clever Thais!

However, the city was burned and razed in 1767 by close neighbours, Burma with whom that Thais have always had a rather fractious relationship with and this sent its inhabitants scurrying off to Bangkok. The city, or what was left of it, and the temples lay abandoned and ruined until someone had the bright idea of dual-charging gullible foreigners to visit and thus it was turned into a huge Buddhist Theme park and spiritual retreat for those too lazy to travel down to Koh Phangan for their colonic irrigations.

Anyway. We ended up back in Ayutthaya for the second time in a week after the wife read about a new walking street that was open as a trial for a couple of weekends and as we'd had a couple of cancellations, we she decided to go and have a look.

The traffic was horrendous but we managed to park not too far away in a car park belonging to Wat Mahathat temple and best of all, it was free. Except the wife decided to come over all proud and Thai and wanted to have a walk around the temple ruins and take selfies, which is what proud Thais do!

The entrance fee was just 15baht for her (0.35GBP, 0.50USD) but for Johnny foreigner, it was 50Baht. Obviously we have bigger feet and thus trample the ruins more than the petite Thais.

Of course, there were a smug Filipino family who went in before us and never spoke, just shoved the Thai price under the counter and kept walking then had the audacity to turn around and give me a cheeky smile!

I have to be honest. I thought I'd just paid to visit an old brickworks...

The construction of Wat Maha That (Wat=Temple in Thai) was started in 1374 with the building of the main pagoda, which subsequently collapsed. It was rebuilt during a huge renovation in 1633 which I'm guessing is the ruins we're looking at today although I had never realised that red bricks were used for construction way back then!

As I mentioned earlier, it was then demolished by the rampant, marauding Burmese in 1767.

To be fair, it must have been a very impressive structure in its time. Looking at the amount of bricks solidly built to form the foundations and pillars, it is no wonder so much survived. Without plans or knowledge of modern structural engineering, everything looked over engineered and stoically put together.

As a tourist attraction, it's great. very well kept, clean and tidy and with enough information boards to give you an idea of what you're looking at but not so may that they become obtrusive and spoil the selfies. Many of them have QR codes to scan if you wish to read further.

One final thing before we go through the rest of the photos is that I don't have a problem holding the camera straight! Many of these crumbling structures were in fact leaning at alarming angles.

Let's Get Into This...

This is what it would have looked like in its prime. I'm not a fan of visiting ruins but its always nice to get an image in your head to be able to visualise what piles of bricks would go where. Sorry about the birdshit!

I also took a picture of this so you can work out what all the bits of the temple are called. I'm spoiling you!

This is one of only a couple of complete Buddha statues remaining intact.

Here is one that is obviously not in one piece, the head is missing but not completely...

As it rolled across the way where it lay abandoned until some trees grew and it re-emerged between the trunk and roots! This is probably one of the most taken pictures on the whole site but it comes with a warning...

They don't mind you taking selfies with it, but in doing so, your head must not be shown above Buddha's. They are rather touchy about this!

As you can see on the wall, there was another sign with warnings about what not to do on it!

It's a real pity about the 'no climbing' rule. Imagine getting a shot of yourself stood on top of that doing a moonie? Childish. Yes. Hilarious. Absolutely.

Looking at the state of that, they obviously used the same builders who built our house.

Yes, I know there are a lot of bricks! I'm trying my best here.

Around the main structure at the center of the temple ran a wall, along which sat the remains of many statuettes.

I always thought Buddha was a bit of a bloater as he is often depicted as such but I'm guessing this was made in his likeness before KFC came to Thailand.

There was nothing inside. I did take a peek!

"Enough!" I hear you cry...

There are many other similar ruins scattered around Ayutthaya historical park so the rewards on this post will dictate whether I go back and post more. Reward it well, there will be no more temples! Poor rewards, I'll have you begging for mercy with temples. Your choice!

Thanks for getting this far. In all seriousness for a moment, it was great to see so many tourists, both Thai and foreigner around. It's been a very tough couple of years for the Thai tourist industry and I'm so happy that things are slowly returning to normal. Long may it continue!

@nathen007

All photos were taken by my me. Any resource was copied from the various information boards and the EXACT location has been pinned to the ever wonderful @pinmapple.



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Do go back and show us more @nathen007 😊😎🤭

It’s great to see and how it must have been long ago. Fascinating.
Interesting all those warnings. Especially the one for not standing above the head.
Thanks for sharing. I loved your photographs of this beautiful place 😊

Yes we felt the same in Paris, great to see so many tourists again after some tough years.

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This is an abandoned brickworks. They are quite rare, the only one I know is in Yorkshire. Not at all like what I am seeing here.

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Infinitely more interesting than yet another temple lol
I'm surprised there aren't more like that left. Where I lived as a kid around Wakefield, there were at least three within about 10 miles including Nostell which was the last to close I believe.

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It's getting tougher to find places. I have a stack to write-up but the next outing is... ? I have no clue yet.

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As soon as I saw this, I already guess it's a lowland ancient temple. From what I understand, ancient lowland temples are often made of/dominated with laterite and bricks instead of stones. This is because the availability of materials where around mountain, it's easier for them to find stones whereas in lowland or nearby river, it's much easier to create these bricks (terracota). What I find interesting is the depiction of the statues that has different shapes and facial expression that the ones we have here.

but I wonder how those bricks were stacked together. If in Indonesia, the bricks were stacked by giving water and then rub them together but that one looks like cemented, perhaps that was also the work from the reservation?

I was thinking to do cambodia just to continue the temple trail from my last year adventure but Thailand temples are captivating too and certainly there's more story behind it😆. ALSO, I wonder if I could pass looking like a thai as long as I don't speak🤣 that way I can save up on those 50bath.

Fun fact, I recently visited a resort that tries to mimic ancient architecture with bricks just last week.
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Wow. I was right, you are the expert. Thanks for the lowdown, makes complete sense about the geography and building materials. I think some of the renovations included a dab of cement here and there. Youd love it here, really and yes, keep your mask on, throw 15baht at them and say khop khun ka and youd in like a local ;-)

Take care Mac and thanks :-)

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Do they offer official guides around the area too? When I went to do these temple trips, I often go with guides but always told them to skip on the folktales and the myths. So, they would show and tell me fun things like how to distinguish the restoration between the actual compound. These temples are quite fragile and even now, Indonesian govt is restricting visitors into these places and charge hefty amount just to visit them.

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Ancient structures are still beautiful, their unique designs are very captivating. We don't have many temples here in the Philippines same as your place, seeing this kind of post gives me an idea how the entire temple looks like. Thanks for taking us around the tenple virtually.

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"I've pissed off every other religion in the past so it's about time I upset the Buddhists."

😆 Fairness and equality all the way!

"the bright idea of dual-charging gullible foreigners to visit and thus it was turned into a huge Buddhist Theme park and spiritual retreat for those too lazy to travel down to Koh Phangan for their colonic irrigation"

😆😆 Ignorance and laziness can be really costly. Lesson learned the hard way here!

"Obviously we have bigger feet and thus trample the ruins more than the petite Thais."

😆 👍 That's logic!

"It's a real pity about the 'no climbing' rule. Imagine getting a shot of yourself stood on top of that doing a moonie? Childish. Yes. Hilarious. Absolutely."

They'd have to catch you first. 😈

"Looking at the state of that, they obviously used the same builders who built our house.
"

OMG - You used him too? Next time warn a sister.

"I always thought Buddha was a bit of a bloater as he is often depicted as such but I'm guessing this was made in his likeness before KFC came to Thailand."

Colonels are renowned for causing trouble. ☹️

I am SO glad I finally had time to come and find you! Laughed the whole way through and am dead set on finally getting to Thailand asap. That's my thing right there. I need to go and sit there for a day at least.

Incredible footage and great dialogue @nathen007 Nicely done, Sir! Nicely done! 👏

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Come on over, the waters lovely. Just leave your common sense and any form of logic at home and you'll have a wonderful time!

Glad to see your post getting much deserved recognition, it restores my faith in the platform :-)

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I'll get there. One day!

And thanks! It's been great to connect with fellow creatives who aren't afraid of the dark! At last!

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