The Ancient Buddhist Kingdom Of Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Thailand

The Ancient Buddhist Kingdom Of Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Thailand

Getting to Si Satchanalai from Sukhothai takes about an hour by car.
After breakfast, we called a Grab taxi to take us there.
Because taxis are not so common in rural Thailand, our intentions were to ask the driver who takes us there if he wished to wait for us and take us back to Sukhothai at the end of the day.

At the entrance to Si Satchanalai Historical Park, there was a bicycle shop renting bicycles for only a dollar for the day.
These are no gears, simple, rusty bicycles, but they made our day much easier, as there is much more to see than what is enclosed inside the historical park.

Si Satchanalai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with amazing temples and Buddhist monuments, all made from blocks cut from Laterite red stone.

Some scholars suggested that the temples in ancient Si Satchanalai were built in the 13th century A.D., in a period when the Khmer culture had spread across many parts of Thailand.

The building materials used, like the hand cut and carved Laterite stones, and the designs above the gates, look different than those used in the ancient capital of Sukhothai and in Kamphaeng Phet.

The stone gates are massive and low, and the sculptures on top of the gates depict mythical creatures that are half human, half musical nymphs.
The walls and Chedi were once decorated with stucco, with motifs that resemble Khmer art.

Wat Chang Lom is assumed to have been built in the Sukhothai period, circa 14th century A.D.
It is a large Buddhist monastery, located in the center of Si Satchanalai ancient town.

Some scholars suggested that the stupa in the temple was actually built in 1285 A.D..
A stone inscription was found that says that King Ramkhamhaeng dug up a relic of the Buddha and built this stupa over the remains.

The main Chedi of Wat Chang Lom is a round-shaped stupa which indicates artistic influences from Sri Lanka.

The base is high and square.
There are a total of 39 elephant sculptures surrounding the base.

During the Sukhothai period, the main temple in Si Satchanalai was quite important, as it housed major historical statues and precious art.
Huge standing and walking Buddha images still remain.

As I mentioned before in my post about Sukhothai, the claim that all three ancient towns are more or less the same age did not feel right to me.

The temples and statues in Sukhothai are all made of red clay bricks that were fired in big kilns in the city.
The temples and statues of Si Satchanalai are all carved from a stone that is called Laterite.

Laterite is a sedimentary rock composed of iron and aluminum oxides.
Although Laterite starts as a relatively soft rock, with time and weathering it gradually gains strength to become a very hard rock.

The stones were mined and manually cut to build all the temples, massive walls and statues in Si Satchanalai.
Not a single red clay brick was used in this kingdom.

Why would a kingdom of about the same age, and located nearby, go through the effort and hardship of mining and cutting stones, if they had the knowledge to mold soft clay into bricks, and if bricks were the commonly used building material….

My guess is that some of the temples in the Si Satchanalai kingdom were already in existence, and that it was only expanded in the 13th and 14th centuries by the ruling king.

Outside of the historical park, we visited more temples.
Not to be missed is Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat Rajaworaviharn with its amazing sculptures and stupa.

We stopped to have lunch by the river, and we enjoyed a very good Thai tea in a cafe belonging to an artist and her husband.

We toured their art gallery, admiring their beautiful paintings, as she carefully brewed our teas.
She was also a Buddhist, and after we chatted and rested, drinking her delicious tea, she gifted me a book of Buddhist poems written in English.

At the end of the day, we returned our bicycles and met our taxi driver who took us back to Sukhothai.
It was too early for dinner, so we got Thai massages near our favorite restaurant in town until dinner time.

From Si Satchanalai with love,
Most photos are by Jules Landsman

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