KHLONG MAKHAM RIANG (คลองมะขามเรียง)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - June 2013
Khlong Makham Riang or the Canal of the Lined up Tamarind Trees (1), before
called Khlong Nai Kai, is a still existent canal situated east on Ayutthaya's city island. The
canal was a shortcut (khlong lat) in the oxbow of the old
Lopburi River.

It has today its origin at
Khlong Ho Ratana Chai below Wat Senasanaram and the Front
Palace; and its mouth at the present Chao Phraya River, west of Phet Fortress. At the
mouth was one of the eleven water gates of Ayutthaya called
Pratu Nai Kai. Today this
water gate is replaced by a water regulator. Khlong Makham Riang is one of the three
large canals running north to south of which two still are in existence.

Khlong Makham Riang must have been at the birth of Ayutthaya, an eastern
defense moat outside the city. In the 16th century is was the eastern city moat (see:
Eastern city limits of Ayutthaya in 1569). Villages such as Ban Khamin and Bang Ian,
as the old Elephant Kraal near
Wat Song were outside the city walls. After the fall of
Ayutthaya in 1569, the city expanded until the
Khlong Khue Na  for purpose of defense.
When Khlong Khue Na became the new eastern city moat, Khlong Makham Riang lost
its basic function.

On the west bank of Khlong Makham Riang from North to south stood
Wat Nang, Wat
Salak, Wat Khok Rak, Wat Saphan Ngern, Wat Ho Rakhang, Wat Jek, Wat Singhasai
and
Wat Tha Ma. On the east bank stood Wat Langka, Wat Phao Khao, Wat Khok
Krabu, Wat Kamphaeng and Wat Tha Pho.

Four bridges crossed the Makham Riang Canal. In the north was a brick bridge called
Saphan Wat Nang going to Ho Ratana Chai or the Tower of the Jewels of Victory
(today's bridge on Pa Maphrao Rd); continuing south crossing the road leading to Pa
Than was a wooden bridge called
Saphan Si Saek (today's Naresuan Bridge on
Naresuan Rd); the
Saphan Hua  Jaka was a large bridge leading to Talaeng Kaeng
(today's Pa Thon Bridge on Pa Thon Rd) and finally in the south was a brick
bridge called
Saphan Nai Kai. The Makham Riang Canal today has more bridges such
as the Ho Ratana Chai Bridge on Ho Ratana Chai Rd, Chaloem Phra Kiat 72 Phansa
Bridge on Bang Ian Rd, and finally the Rojana Bridge on Rojana Rd.

Smaller canals, inexistent today, were branching off from Khlong Makham Riang. On the
west bank, a canal leading to
Wat Pa Nai passing Wat Chatthan had its origin south
of the Hua Jaka Bridge. The same small canal continued on the east bank (see
Bellin's
map). Near the water gate Pratu Nai Kai, a small canal was dug on the west bank from
Khlong Makham Riang to
Khlong Pratu Jin. On the opposite side of the canal another
small canal lead to
Wat Suwan Dararam.

The old denomination of Khlong Makham Riang being Khlong Nai Kai, is mentioned in
the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya in the paragraph on the "War With Lawæk" in 1575.
[1] Nai Kai was in fact the name of a quarter in the city. The Phet Fortress was called
Nai Kai Fort in the same chronicles.

At present Khlong Makham Riang, same as Khlong Tho - Chakrai Yai became
unfortunately an open sewer. Filthy household waters are drained into the canal. As the
water in the canal is stagnant it could be a cause of spread of malaria, dengue and other
diseases (breeding ground of mosquitoes).

The initiation of a project to create a permanent water flow (current) through the canals of
the city of Ayutthaya and into Bueng Phra Ram, by connecting all the remaining
canals and using the current water regulators could improve the present situation. Water
flow inside the canals would bring oxygen in its waters (plants & fish life), ventilation and
coolness in the city and reduce largely the risk of spread of tropical diseases.

Footnotes:

(1) Makham (มะขาม) - Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is a leguminous tree in the family
Fabaceae indigenous to tropical Africa. The genus Tamarindus is a monotypic taxon,
having only a single species. The tamarind tree produces edible, pod-like fruit which are
used extensively in cuisines around the world. Other uses include traditional
medicines and metal polishes. The wood can be used in carpentry. [Ref: Wikipedia] /  
Riang (เรียง) - Lined up.

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 79
/ Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - War With Lawæk, 1575.
Detail of Bellin's map - 1751
Detail of Bellin's map - 1751
Detail of Kaempfer's map - 1727
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - 1926
(Detail of Kaempfer's map - 1727)
(Detail of Bellin's map - 1751)
(Detail of Bellin's map - 1751)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - 1926)