KHLONG THA PHRA (คลองท่าพระ)
Text & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2013
Khlong Tha Phra (1) also known under the name Khlong Klaep (2) is a defunct canal
situated on Ayutthaya's city island of which some stretches still can be seen today on the
western side.

The canal has its mouth at the former
Lopburi River, today the Chao Phraya River. Here
stood one of the eleven water gates around the island called
Pratu Khlong Klaep.

The canal continued under the same name in western direction on the opposite side of
the main river by-passing
Tamnak Phra Jao Prasat Thong in direction of Wat Suren. The
canal ended at the junction with
Khlong Chakrai Yai. (3) Beyond its junction it continued
in eastern direction as
Khlong Pa Mo. (4)

Trying to situate the temples along the Tha Phra Canal we are in for a difficult exercise
with many players.

Following the oldest map (mid 19th C), the temples (from east to west) on the northern
bank were
Wat Salak (aka Wat Kuti Salak), Wat Lanthom Noi, Wat Jom Thong and
Wat Chang; on the southern bank were Wat Pi Rai, Wat Lanthom Yai, Wat Cho and
Wat Phra Ngam. In the middle of the canal, but in fact not much likely stood Wat Jan.

The second oldest map (begin 20th C) from Phraya Boran Rachathanin gives another
view. On the northern bank were Wat Pi Rai (instead of Wat Salak) and
Wat Pa Sathon
(instead of Wat Chang). Wat Lanthom Noi and Wat Jom Thong are not indicated. On
the southern bank were
Wat Pa Phat (instead of Wat Pi Rai), Wat Chon (instead of Wat
Lanthom Yai), Wat Cho and Wat Phra Ngam.

A map of the Fine Arts Department of 2007 indicates the excavations performed in the
area and shows us on the northern bank: Wat Chang,
Wat Satdichon, Wat Pa Sai and
Wat Pi Rai; on the southern bank only traces of Wat Pa Sathon, Wat Cho and Wat
Chon were found.

I think it is unjust to conclude that there were only monasteries situated at the origin and
near the mouth of Khlong Tha Phra and nothing in between them. There should have
been more monasteries along this canal as indicated by the mid-19th century map.

The cluster of temples formed by Wat Pa Sai, Wat Satdichon and Wat Chang belongs
likely to one single temple and from here onwards I call this cluster Wat Chang.

Wat Salak or Wat Kuti Salak on the north bank is mentioned in the old documents. I
presume Wat Pi Rai (Yi Rai) must be another name for the same temple. Wat Jom
Thong and Wat Lanthom Noi on the north bank were likely never excavated.

I retain also Wat Pa Phat on the southern bank, as Pa Phat (Fan Quarter) is mentioned
in the same old documents. Wat Chon could be the same temple as Wat Lanthom Yai
on the mid-19th C map.

In my conclusion we had following temples on the north bank (E to W): Wat Salak, Wat
Lanthom Noi, Wat Jom Thong and Wat Chang; on the opposite side were Wat Pa Phat,
Wat Chon and Wat Cho.

Khlong Tha Phra fed probably a marsh on its northern side. The mid-19th century map
indicates Wat Jan mid-canal, while Phraya Boran Rachathanin put a monastery called
Wat Vihan Klaep higher up in the marsh.

South of the mouth of Khlong Klaep was the
Phra Racha Wang Lang Landing which
had a ferry connecting across the main river with the
Wat Lot Chong Landing. (5) [1]

Footnotes:

(1) ท่า: landing พระ: monk - Canal of the Landing of the Monk.
(2) แกลบ: chaff / paddy husk- Paddy Husk Canal.
(3) As this canal led to Wat Chai Watthanaram, an important royal temple in the 17th -
18th century, it bear likely the same name (Khlong Klaep) on both the sides of the main
river.
(4) Sujit Wongthet cuts the canal down east of Wat Chon, naming the stretch towards
Wat Pa Phat as Khlong Pa Phat.
(5) See "The Boat & Ferry Landings of Ayutthaya".

References:

[1] อธิบายแผนที่พระนครศรีอยุธยากับคำวินิจฉัยของพระยาโบราฌราชาธานินท์ ฉบับชำระครั้งที่๒
และ ภูมิสถนกรุงศรีอยุธยา  (2007) - Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of
Phraya Boran Rachathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya Kingdom - Ton Chabab
print office - Nonthaburi (2007) - page 91-92.
Khlong Tha Phra on a Mid 19th C map
Khlong Tha Phra on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - 1926
Khlong Tha Phra on Kaempfer's map
(Khlong Tha Phra on Kaempfer's map)
(Khlong Tha Phra on a Mid 19th C map)
(Khlong Tha Phra on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's
map - 1926)