KHLONG HANTRA (คลองหันตรา)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - June 2010
Khlong Hantra or like Cushman [1] would translate, the Canal of the Division of the
Seal
flows through the sub-district of the same name (Tambon Han Tra) and formerly
referred to as the Hantra Plains.

This canal was once a stretch of the
Pa Sak River, meandering around the former Ban
Ma (Horse village), east of Ayutthaya [2]. When the latter was deviated towards the
Front city moat at some stage, the old riverbed, was divided up in different canals being:
Khlong Hantra (from
Wat Pa Kho till Wat Krasang), Khlong Kramang (from Wat
Krasang till the entry of Khlong Dusit),
Khlong Dusit (called after Wat Dusit on its east
bank) and
Khlong Khao San (with its mouth at the present Pa Sak River, being the
southern end of the former Front city moat).

Khlong Hantra was one of the most important former canals, east of Ayutthaya,
bordering the ancient Ayodhya area. Ayodhaya covered parts of the present Phai Ling,
Hantra and Khlong Suan Phlu sub-districts. The area was probably already populated
during the Dvaravati era (6th to the 11th centuries). There is evidence that a community
settled in this area much earlier than 1351- the official date of establishment of the city of
Ayutthaya. Sources suggest that the Khmers occupied the area as early as 850-1000 AD
and established an outpost here, naming it Ayodhya after the ancient and one of the
holiest Hindu cities of India (the old capital of Awadh in the Faizabad district of Uttar
Pradesh). The area was later invaded by Anawrahta, the King of Pagan (r.1044-1077)
and controlled by the "Burmese"; for about a hundred years. After the Burmese influence
waned, it was conquered once again by the Khmer and held until the mid 13th century.
The Tai seized political power shortly afterward by combining the Lavo and
Suphannaphum Kingdoms. When King U-Thong arrived at Wiang Lek in 1347, a
number of architectural structures already existed.

Khlong Hantra houses three active Buddhist monasteries:
Wat Pa Kho at its mouth on
the southern canal bank,
Wat Hantra on its eastern bank and Wat Krasang at its
confluence with Khlong Kramang Phai Ling.

In the northeastern section of the Hantra canal, a connecting canal had been dug towards
the present Kramang canal. This canal was called Khlong Wat Doem (1) in the northern
part, Khlong Kudi Dao in the southern part. At the intersection of the Hantra canal and
the mouth of the Wat Doem canal, a floating market existed in Ayutthayan times. This
area had an affluent community. [3]

The Hantra Field played also a role in Ayutthaya's defenses, as it was one of the areas
where a large wooden fort - the Thong Na Hantra Fort - was built. [4]

In 1581 the Hantra plains were used to constitute a Siamese army of 100.000 soldiers,
800 elephants and 1500 horses to prepare an attack on the Cambodian capital of
Lawaek. The campaign was not successful as the City of Lawaek did not surrender and
the Siamese army had to give up its siege, due to insufficient food supplies. [5]

It was also in this area that Phraya Tak, the later King Taksin, with his followers broke
through the Burmese encirclement of Ayutthaya at Hantra Village in 1766. [6]

Khlong Hantra can be paddled by kayak. A description of the
Hantra kayak trip can be
found on this web site under the section "kayaking".

Footnotes:

(1) Also called Wat Dusit, hence Khlong Dusit. The name of Khlong Ayodhya has also
been given to this stretch.

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006).
[2] Our Wars with The Burmese - Prince Damrong Rajanubhab (1917) - Re-edited
White lotus (2000).
[3] Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - page 272.
[4] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya – Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 32 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
[5] Ibid - page 139.
[6] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 514 /
Source: Royal Autograph.
(Mouth of Khlong Hantra near Wat Pa Kho)
(View of Khlong Hantra)
(Wat Hantra along Khlong Hantra)
(View of the canal)