By 1700, Ayuthaya had become the largest city in the world with a population of 1 million, having trade contacts with countries all around the world. Dutch and French maps show the richness of the city with grand complexes, gold-laden temples, all this reduced to ruins when Burmese invaded Ayuthaya and burned down the city. All that remains today are the ruins that gives an idea of how grand the city must have been in its heydays.
One morning, we decided to take a day trip to Ayuthaya. The previous night, we paid for the trip and got ready early and waited at the entrance of the hotel for a mini van to pick us up. One system that stumped me was how efficient these pick up and drops were. This is how it works in Thailand. You call up an agency or walk to their shop and agree on a tour plan.
They promise to pick you up at the hotel at designated time. The mini van arrives on time to your hotel for the pick up. No phone confirmation, no hassles of any kind. Once you reach your destination which can be a park or a theatre or a cruise, you don't even come to know where these mini vans go. Then when you are done with the program, the driver comes looking for you, recognizes you amongst the crowd and takes you to your van among 100s of other vans and dropped off at the hotel. Again no talks, no phones, no hassles. The drivers are so efficient. They don't expect tips, they don't talk to you; language barrier. But everything works so fine.
Anyway, after about 2 hours or so, we reached Ayuthaya with 10 other tourists. A guide was arranged for the day; who spoke English. He swiftly swung into action taking us from one place to another, explaining the history of the city, the kingdom, the temples and the ruins. Around 2 PM, the tour ended, we were treated to a scrumptious Thai meal. Post meal, we drove back to Bangkok to be dropped off at the hotel at 5 PM.
Ayuthaya was our first glimpse of historical Thailand and first genuine Thai experience. Though it is so near to Bangkok, many folks are not aware of this city. Even if they are, they simple choose to skip it in favor of crowded and over rated Pattaya. I was glad I chose Ayuthaya over Pattaya.
Here are few pics.
The chedis at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
Devotees stick gold leaves on images of Buddha during worshi
Rows of Buddha in mediation gives a calm and serene atmosphere
The iconic image of Buddha head being outgrown by roots of Fig tree
The chedis in ruins at Wat Mahathat; the temple belongs to 13th century and whats left to see are the ruins.
Phra Bhuddhasaiyart at Wat Lokayasutharam - 37 mts long and 8 mts high. The waters of 2011 flood had covered half the statue is what the guide said.
Wat Phukhao Thong - Monastery of Golden Mount of 13th century; built to commemorate the victory of King Naresuan over the Burmese. The base is Burmese style, the higher parts in Ayuthaya style. The ascent to the top was tiring but the view was spectacular.
A monk trying to meditate.
Wat Phra Sri Sanpet - largest temple with restored chedis - Wihan Phra Trilokkanat. It was built in 1448 on a site which had served as royal palace.
Wat Phra Sri Sanpet ruins
Large bronze image of Buddha at Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit. The image is said to be constructed around 1538. By now, I was tired hopping from temples to temples to find larger Buddha than the previous ones. Though each image has an historical importance, it didn't seem any different than the others to a naked eye.
Kids selling locusts, grasshoppers made of palm leaves.