After having visited the ruins of Ayutthaya about 8 years ago with my late father, he would have been happy to know that the ancient site is looking better than before due to ongoing rehabilitation and excavation of this World Cultural Heritage site. The Ayutthaya estate, situated on an island, lends to its strategic position and rich rice economy.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya and then capital of Thailand was established in 1350 AD by King Ramathibodi and lasted for 417 years. Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of the most important Bhuddhist monastries consists of a main prang (Khmer-type tower) and 4 lesser prangs surrounded by a further 8 lesser prangs, occupies pride of place centrally.
In the sixteenth century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. The pomp and pageantry is well depicted in the Journey back to History at Siam Niramit.
The court of King Narai (1656-1688) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris.
A Chinese style residence built in China was transported over as a gift to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1889.
The might of Ayutthaya knew no bounds and its vassals included the Northern Shan states of present-day Myanmar, Lanna (Chiang Mai, Yunnan & Shan Sri (China), Lan Xang (Laos), Cambodian Kingdom, and some city-states in the Malay Peninsula. Early on in his reign, King Ramathibodi had seized Angkor from the Khmers.
In 1569 Ayutthaya eventually fell to the Burmese Kingdom of Tounggoo as part of its 'imperial expansion' plan.
Ayutthaya entered into its golden age, a relatively peaceful episode, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century when art, literature, and learning flourished while foreign wars were fought against the Vietnamese and Burmese. Eventually Ayutthaya fell in 1767 to Burma after a lengthy siege. Ayutthaya's art treasures, the libraries containing its literature, and the archives housing its historic records were almost totally destroyed.
Leaving behind the legacy of ancient Ayutthaya, the 2-hour river cruise afforded time to savour Bangkok au natural along the Chao Praya.
The 'Bangkok Hilton'