Si Satchanalai: A Window on Thailand’s Ancient Past
For visitors of Si Satchanalai Historical Park in Thailand’s Sukhothai Province, the best place to start is a few kilometers outside Si Satchanalai’s town walls at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, one of the oldest temples in the park.
This small temple complex, which predates the Sukhothai era was founded in 1237, when the region came under the control of the Khmer Empire. However, over the centuries throughout the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods, it was extended and renovated, and is now encompassed by an unusual wall with monoliths that bear some resemblance to Stonehenge in South West England.
After walking through the entrance gate (watch your head!) you have the prayer hall or Ubosot, with the Prang, or tower, in front of you and a large sitting Buddha, flanked by smaller standing ones on the left. Behind the sitting Buddha visitors can walk up the steep staircase to a small chamber for a better view of the structure below.
Next are the ruins of a large stupa, Phra That Mutao, of which unfortunately not much is left. On the left is a more interesting enclosed Phra Attharot Buddha statue and two seated Buddha statues, named Phra Song Phi Nong.
Phra That Mutao
All in all, Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat gives visitors a real taste of what to expect in the rest of Si Satchanalai Historical Park, and within easy walking distance opposite the temple complex is Si Satchanalai Community Museum. This is a fascinating little place on two floors that showcases some unusual artefacts including three massive spirit puppets used annually in a parade.
The Community Museum comes under the auspices of the DASTA* (Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration), a Thai public organization that aims to create and develop sustainable tourism projects in specially designated areas.
Both places are suitable for FITs and small groups that are visiting or staying in the vicinity of Sukhothai Historical Park – another fascinating ancient attraction of Sukhothai Province.
(*) For more information about the DASTA, visit here.
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