KHLONG CHANG (คลองช้าง)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2016
Khlong Chang or the Canal of the Elephants is an old canal situated north of
Ayutthaya on the border of Ayutthaya and Bang Pahan Districts.

Khlong Chang was in fact the northern leg of the U-loop in the
Lopburi River near
an area called
Thung Lum Phli before Khlong Bang Khuat was dug. The Lopburi River
received a small part of the waters of
Khlong Bang Phaeng, a track of the former Bang
Kaeo River. A tributary split of at Ban Nonsi passed Wat Khok and separated
again with a leg running into the loop of the Lopburi River near
Wat Kuti Lai. [1]

Thereupon Luang Aphai Phiphat, the Chinese, prostrated himself to address the
King and volunteered to go forth to fight. He managed to organize a group of two
thousand Chinese masters of the kai, advanced forth from the municipality,
crossed the
Canal of the Elephants and would have gone to erect a stockade. [2]

The waterway between Wat Kuti Lai and
Wat Dao Khanong was called Khlong Chang,
likely because
Wat Chang Yai and Wat Chang Noi, opposite Ban Maen, were situated
along the track of this canal. Khlong Chang had its mouth near Wat Dao Khanong in the
vicinity of the
Bang Lang northern royal tax station. The old name of Wat Dao Khanong
was Wat Pak Khlong or the
Monastery at the Mouth of the Canal; a name which can
be found back in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya.

When it was the third month [of the year] he accordingly advanced and halted at
the Holy Residence of the Holy Crown Metropolis for about three days. Then he
secretly sent a confidant down to extend an invitation to Reverend Phrom at the
Monastery of the Mouth of Elephant Canal, saying, "His Highness Celestial Lord
Aphaithot has already come and stayed at the Holy Residence of the Holy Crown
Metropolis for three days. At this time he has issued a command for me to come
and extend an invitation for Your Holy Personage and Overlord to go up to him."
[3]

Apparently the canal seems to have continued under an identical name running along the
southern side of Wat Dao Khanong towards Wat Ton Satu and poured here into the new
Lopburi River track. (2) [4] Opposite the mouth of the canal stood Wat Khung Nam
Won (Monastery of the Whirlpool Bend), the community temple of Ban Nam Won. (1)

Temples along Khlong Chang are Wat Kuti Lai,
Wat Tha Sai (L), Wat Chang Yai (L),
Wat Chang Noi (L),
Wat Khae (L) and Wat Pho Sam Ton (R). There are no traces of a
community temple all along the north (left) bank of Khlong Chang at Ban Maen and this is
rather exceptional. (3)

Footnotes:

(1) Kamnan Man indicated that Khlong Chang, cutting through Ban Lao, was bordered
with wooden poles called Sao Talung (เสาทะลุง). These are the same poles which are
surrounding the
elephant kraal in Ayutthaya. The top-end of this poles are embellished
with an ornamental knob (lotus-bud) and were used to tied up elephants.
(2) Still today when boating in this bend of the Lopburi River near Wat Ton Satu you
encounter whirlpools.
(3) (L) and (R) are indicating respectively the left or right bank of the waterway.

References:

[1] Map L708 Edition 1 RTSD - Sheet 5154 III 47P /EG 11. Map based on aerial
photography in 1954, annotated in 1955 and compiled in 1960. The map was not field
checked.
[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 481 /
Source: Royal Autograph - Chinese Volunteers.
[3] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 341 /
Source: British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - Revolt of Tham
Thian.
[4] Interview with retired Kamnan Man (หมาน) of Tambon Khayai in 2011.
(Khlong Chang east of Ban Maen)
Khlong Chang east of Ban Maen
Khlong Chang near Ban Maen
(Khlong Chang near Ban Maen)
Khlong Chang west of Ban Maen andview of Wat Chang Yai
(Khlong Chang west of Ban Maen and
view of Wat Chang Yai)
Khlong Chang from the west
(Khlong Chang from the west)
Old
(Old "Sao Talung" unearthed during maintenance of
the canal stretch, east of Wat Dao Khanong early 2016)