THUNG PHUKHAO THONG
Thung Phukhao Thong or the Field of the Golden Mountain was the area bordered on the west by the present Chao Phraya River which
occupied the bed of the
Bang Kaeo River in the mid-19th century. The northern limit ran in line with Khlong Maha Phram on the opposite side of the
river. On the east ran
Khlong Maha Nak (eastern stretch) and the delimitation in the south was Thung Khwan.

The name of the field was derived from the northern landmark Phukhao Thong or Mountain of Gold. The large chedi was built on the premises of
Wat Phukhao Thong.  The latter was established in the second reign of King Ramesuan (r. 1388-1395) in 1395 AD. [1] The monastery could have
been originally a shrine dedicated to a mountain spirit, who was also the guardian of the city - the earliest type of guardian spirit of a city worthy of
the royal patronage. [2]

In 757, a year of the ox, the Phukhao Thòng Monastery was founded. [1]

The Phukhao Thong field re-enters history during the Siamese-Burmese war of 1549. Following the oldest version of the Royal Chronicles of
Ayutthaya, Chakkraphat (r. 1548-1569) went to fight off the Hongsawadi army, accompanied by his chief queen Suriyothai and a daughter. The
vanguard of the Siamese army was routed by the Burmese and in the withdrawal, collided with the main force. In the tumult and confusion of the
battle, Suriyothai and her daughter were killed. [3] The oldest chronicle did not mention the exact location, but in later written chronicles, setting the
whole event in the Siamese-Burmese war of 1563-4, the Phukhao Thong plains are mentioned as the main battle area. [4] A
memorial park has
been established in the Makham Yong plain - an extension of the Phukhao Thong plain - to commemorate Queen Suriyothai. The Makham Yong
Plain was the location were the King of Prae had set up his stockade.

On the next day, Sunday, the sixth day of the waxing moon of the fourth month, King Cakkraphat would lead forth his companies of
valiant soldiers to try the strength of the enemy on the Phukhao Thòng Plain, so he donned his royal battle decorations and, for his royal
mount, took his seat upon Kæo Cakkrarat, a chief male elephant standing six sòk [BCDF: , one khüp] and five niu high, prepared with
elephant ornaments and a war howdah armed on both sides, and having a center rider and a mahout.
[4]

After he conquered Ayutthaya in 1569, King Bayin Naung (r. 1551-1581) of Hongsawadi ordered a large chedi to be build near Wat Phukhao
Thong as a monument of victory. At the time of returning to Hongsawadi, only the Mon styled foundation of the chedi was finalized. Maha
Thammaracha (r. 1569-1590) from Phitsanulok, installed as vassal king, did not show much excitement in continuing further construction and the
base remained without a chedi. Prince Naresuan (r. 1590-1605), the son of  Maha Thammaracha, had finally a chedi constructed on top of the
Mon-base in 1587 after having rejected the vassal ship of Hongsawadi prior.

Thung Phukhao Thong is also known for its Maha Nak Canal. The story goes that on hearing the Burmese troops approaching Ayutthaya in 1563, a
monk of the Phukhao Thong Monastery disrobed and organized the digging of a number of defensive moats around the Phukhao Thong field in
order to protect the northern side of the city. These moats still can be seen today.

The Reverend Maha Nak, who was a monk at Phukhao Thòng Monastery, left the monkhood and agreed to erect a stockade to protect the naval
forces. He erected a stockade from Phukhao Thòng Monastery on down to Phlu Forest Monastery. The followers of Maha Nak, uniting their
strength to that of his relatives and of his male and female slaves, helped each other dig a ditch, hence called Maha Nak Canal, outside the stockade
for the protection of the naval forces. [4]

The field was also used as a troop concentration area prior going into battle as we find King Naresuan constituting an army of 100.000 men, 800
war elephants and 1500 horses in the Phukhao Thong Plain in 1590 to stop a Burmese incursion.(1) A large memorial has been set up for King
Naresuan, east of chedi Phukhao Thong.

Both Kings, being so informed, said, “We would have gone to celebrate the lunar New Year Festival in Lawæk, but now [BCF: the solar
New Year Festival] [DE: war] takes precedence! We shall [CDEF: have to] advance forth first to have fun [BCEF: celebrating the solar
New Year Festival] [D: playing war] with the Mòns.” Then They ordered that [B: an army of] one hundred thousand fully armed levies,
eight hundred war elephants, and [B: eleven] [CDEF: fifteen] hundred horses be conscripted, had the rites of the Forest Entrance,
Cutting the Wood, and Cursing the Enemy’s Name [BCEF: celebrated] [D: performed] in the vicinity of Lumphli, and established Their
Victory Camp at [BCDF: the Phukhao] [E: Khao] Thòng [BCDF: Field].
[5]

The Phukhao Thong Field was also a location where stockades were set up by the enemy during the investment of Ayutthaya in the Burmese wars
of 1759-60 and 1766-67. In 1759 the Burmese started their incursion into Siamese territory. Finding little resistance on their way to Ayutthaya they
finally crossed the Bang Kaeo River to the Phukhao Thong Field and installed big guns near
Wat Na Phra Men and Wat Hatsadawat to fire on the
Grand Palace. Unexpected, the Burmese army withdrew suddenly after the Burmese King Alaung Mintayagyi (Alaungpaya) became heavily
wounded when by lighting a fuse of a big gun, the latter bursted.

When it was evening, the Burmese gave up and crossed over the river to the banks on the side of the Monastery of the Gold Mountain. [6]

During the Burmese-Siamese war of 1766-67, the Burmese general Nemiao Sihabodi established his advance forces at the Phukhao Thong
monastery and at other monasteries on the west side of the city, using cannons to shoot inside the city.

Then he conscripted and had all the army masters advance forward to establish stockades at the Monastery of the Gold Mountain, [at]
the Village of the Fort and [at] the Monastery of the Crying Crow. He had them erect bastions and build forts so they were tall, take large
and small guns up [into them] and fire them on into the Holy Metropolis.
[7]

Following were the temples in alphabetical order, located in this area:
Wat Chang Thong, Wat Chong Lom, Wat Wong Jak and Wat Phukhao
Thong.

Footnotes:

(1)The chronicles state 1582, year of the horse, but should be amended as 1590, year of the tiger. [8]

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 14 / Source: Luang Prasoet - King Ramesuan [second reign], 1388-
1395.
[2] Siamese State Ceremonies - Their history and function - H.G. Quaritch Wales (1931) - London, Bernard Quaritch, Ltd. - Page 301.
[3] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 27 / Source: Luang Prasoet - War With Burma, Early 1549.
[4] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 32 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - War With Hongsawadi, 1563-1564.
[5] Ibid - page 141 - War With Hongsawadi Resumes.
[6] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 483 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - The Burmese Besiege the Capital.
[7] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 511 / Source: Royal Autograph - The Burmese Tighten the Noose
Around Ayutthaya.
[8] Our Wars with the Burmese - Prince Damrong Rajanubhab (1917) - White Lotus, Bangkok (2000).
Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2012