KHLONG CHAKRAI YAI (คลองฉะไกรใหญ่)
Text & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2013
Khlong Chakrai Yai is a still existent canal situated on Ayutthaya's city island and is the
extension of
Khlong Tho,  identical to the defunct Pratu Khao Pluak Canal, which
extension is called
Pratu Jin Canal. The canal was a shortcut in the oxbow of the old
Lopburi River. The canal has its mouth at the Chao Phraya River in front of Wat
Phutthaisawan. Ban Chakrai was a village located on the city island but outside the city
walls. (1)

It is one of the three large canals running north to south of which two still are in existence.

Two of the five bridges along the full stretch of the canal were located on this section,
being the
Nang Hong Bridge connecting Wat Khwit Road with Wat Kuti Salak and the
wooden
Khun Lok Bridge north of the Chakrai Yai Water Gate.

On the east bank of Khlong Chakrai Yai stood
Wat Jan, Wat Rak, Wat Chanaman, Wat
Som, and Wat Hip; on the west bank Wat Khok Khamin, Wat Khun Phrom, Wat Kao
(
Wat Salak), Wat Pi Rai, Wat Pa Phat, Wat Jao Phram, Wat Jao Phrap and the
warehouse
Khlang Dibuk.

Along the canal was a road called Chakrai Yai road where people bought bamboo and
where walls of houses were made for sale. There were shops selling different cloth and
there was a market called Patterned-Cloth Market. [2]

For the meaning of "Chakrai" see
Khlong Chakrai Noi.

Footnotes:

(1) At Choeng Chakrai Village outside the city wall, villagers have set  up halls and shops
to sell posts of rang and rang wood, as well as wooden floor-joists and tie-beams, forest
bamboo, ruak bamboo, and lai wood from Amphawa. [1]

References:

[1] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 56.
[2] Ibid. - page 66.
Engelbert Kaempfer's Published map - Anno 1727
Jacques Nicolas Bellin's map - ca 1750
Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
(Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926)
(Jacques Nicolas Bellin's map - ca 1750)
(Engelbert Kaempfer's Published map - Anno 1727)
Water gates on Khlong Chakrai Yai

In 2017 excavations in Khlong Chakrai Yai lead to the discovery of two brick water gates on the west bank of the canal in the vicinity of the
Ayutthaya Historical Park Office.

At the entrance of the small canals was a sluice gate, tapering down into Khlong Chakrai Yai with a number of slots, in which fitted wooden partitions
of different size, used to control the water flow (often wooden beams were found in the front a water gate, to break the flow of the water, but I do
not know if this was the case here).

Both locations of the water gates seem to match with the waterway junctions on Bellin's map (ca 1750).
The most northern water regulator was situated near Wat Khok Khamin and regulated the waters of a canal linking Khlong Chakrai Yai with the
moat surrounding the Rear Palace. Along the south bank of this canal, the following monasteries were situated from west to east: Wat Prasat, Wat
Saek, Wat Takhe, Wat Si Racha, Wat Khok Khamin (all these monasteries are defunct today).

The second and southern excavated water gate was situated near Wat Khun Phrom and regulated the waters from a canal, but likely merely a ditch,
linking Khlong Chakrai Yai with the Rear Palace moat, running parallel with the canal described above. The waterway ended up near Wat Noi Wang
Lang.

Engelbert Kaempfer shows a canal parallel at Lao Street on his draft map (1690), which runs into Khlong Chakrai Yai via a water gate (water gate
1). The canal running parallel with the canal mentioned before is missing on his map, but we can see its extension on the east bank of Khlong Chakrai
Yai south of Wat Jan and north of Wat Rak.
Opposite water gate 1, brickwork has been excavated on the east bank of Khlong Chakrai Yai. Likely these bricks are the remnants of another water
gate on the canal running parallel with Talaeng Kaeng Street.

In conclusion, I believe that the canal running south of Pa Thon Road (former Lao and Talaeng Kaeng streets) from the Sappasamitbamrung School
towards the City Pillar Shrine, and indicated as an old canal alignment, is not the location of an old canal of the Ayutthaya era. I suspect that this so
called old canal alignment dates back to the late 19th or the early 20th century at a time that there was a governmental cantonment located in this area.
Both the old canals of the Ayutthaya era mentioned in the text are today defunct.
(Detail of Engelbert Kaempfer's draft map - Anno 1690)
(Detail of Jacques Nicolas Bellin's map - ca 1750)
(Water gate 1 - closest to the Lam Hoei Bridge)
(Water gate 2)
Text, pictures & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2017