KHLONG MUEANG (คลองเมือง)
Khlong Mueang or the City Canal is the waterway on the northern side of Ayutthaya's
city island starting at Hua Ro and having its exit at the confluence with the Chao Phraya
River near Hua Laem.

Khlong Mueang is a track of the old
Lopburi River, though many people believe that it is
a man-made canal. The Lopburi River descending from the north, ran in the Ayutthayan
Era around the city and joined the Chao Phraya River near Bang Sai (below Bang Pa-
In). The City Canal is a remnant from that time.

A few years after the fall of Ayutthaya (1569) the defenses of the city were improved and
a short shunt was dug in front of the
Maha Chai Fortress, which deviated the Lopburi
River into the dredged and widened
Khu Khue Na (the moat in front of the city) and
made the Lopburi River completely surrounding the city of Ayutthaya. The Lopburi River
tended now to follow its new course straight south.  

The Ayutthayans fearing that insufficient water on the northern side where the
Grand
Palace and the Royal Boathouse was situated would become shallow, built a weir with
large wooden beams positioned in front of the Maha Chai Fortress, reducing the current
of the river and blocking off the waters so that they partly continued to flow north of the
city into its oxbow.

The weir collapsed during the Burmese attack in 1767 and the Lopburi River poured
down into the Khu Khua Na (old eastern moat). As the weir was destroyed, the Lopburi
River on the northern side of the city became shallow. The river banks developed larger
and made the river narrower, looking today as a canal (and bearing the name).

Today we find the old ordination halls of the monasteries on the northern river bank -
from
Wat Mae Nang Plum over Wat Kuti Thong until Wat Sala Pun - far from the
waterway. The northern river bank expanded thus quite a bit. On the southern part from
Wat Khun Yuan onwards the river bank at the city’s side developed much more. Phraya
Boran Rachathanin stated more than one hundred years ago, that there were no big trees
along the waterway, indicating the silting of the banks was recent at that time. [1]

On the north bank of Khlong Mueang were following temples located (from east to
west): Wat Mae Nang Plum,
Wat Pa Khonthi, Wat Wihan Thong, Wat Intharam, Wat
Wong Khong, Wat Pho, Wat Kuti Thong, Wat Mai, Wat Na Phra Men, Wat
Hatsadawat, Wat Choeng Tha, Wat Phanom Yong, Wat Sala Pun, Wat Phrom Niwat.
The royal boathouse, surrounded by the Khu Mai Rong was situated in between Wat
Choeng Tha and Wat Phanom Yong.

On the city's side were
Wat Song, Wat Khun Saen, Wat Khian, Wat Tha Sai, Wat
Racha Pradit Sathan, Wat Suwannawat, Wat Khongkha Wihan and further up the Grand
Palace.
Wat Yan Sen and Wat Thammikarat were slightly more land inwards.

On this stretch of the old Lopburi River were seven ferry landings shuttling the people
between the city island and the northern main land.
Tha Wasukri was the royal boat
landing and only used by the court.

Multiple canals were splitting off from this northern water stretch. Each important city
canal was guarded by a fortress. At the northeastern tip near Hua Ro we had the large
Maha Chai Fortress. The first city canal going south was the
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak
with at his water gate the double fortress
Pom Pratu Khao Pluak. The second canal was
the
Lam Khu Pak Sra which entry was guarded by a bastion on its west bank. Then we
had two fortresses of the palace; at the northeastern corner stood
Pom Tha Khan
guarding the mouth of
Khlong Sra Bua on the opposite side; and on the east bank of the
third main city canal
Khlong Tho stood Pom Thai Sanam. Near Hua Laem was a
double fortress being Pom Sup Rat and
Pom Sat Kop  overlooking the confluence of a
waterway coming down from Bang Kaeo and the Lopburi River; while also guarding the
water gate of
Khlong Fang. Opposite Pom Tha Khan on the north bank of the Lopburi
River and east of the mouth of the Khlong Sra Bua Canal next to Wat Mai, stood
Sala
Trawen
a guard and control post.

Just opposite the canal bank of Wat Kuti Thong and next to the bridge leading to its
premises, stands the shrine of
Jao Phor Lak Mueang and a stone pillar. The shrine
contains the remnants of the old city pillar, initially located on the grounds of the grand
palace and moved towards the bank of the old Lopburi River.

References:

[1] Tamnan Krung Kao - Phraya Boran Rachathanin (1907) - page 93-4.
(View of Khlong Mueang from Wat Mae Nang Plum
Bridge)
(Origin of Khlong Mueang near Hua Ro)
(View of Khlong Mueang from Wat Phanom Yong
Bridge)
(View of Khlong Mueang from Wat Phanom Yong
Bridge)
(View of the water gate at the origin of Khlong Tho)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - March 2012