ELEPHANT STREET
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - August 2010
Updated 6 September 2012
Elephant Street ran east of the Grand Palace from Pratu Jakra Mahima (a palace gate)
towards
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak and the Elephant Bridge. The street passed Wat
Thammikarat, Wat Yan Sen, a canal crossing near the former lead market, Wat Suwan
Chedi and Wat Phlaphla Chai.

The street would run at present from the northeastern corner of the Palace, through the
premises of Wat Thammikarat and Yan Sen, straight over the campus of the Ayutthaya
Technical College and continue in eastern direction in between the present Ayutthaya
Kinder Garden School and Wat Phlabphla Chai. The street stood in the axis of the
present Thanon Pa Maphrao or Coconut Market Rd.

Gijsbert Heeck writes in his journal of 1655 [1] the following: "
At the end of this street
[the street of Bazaars], one enters the Street of the Elephants, which, coming from
the side, runs straight to the king's court. On both sides this street has nothing but
elephant houses, brick-built with strong wooden stalls, named fa. Most stand in
duplex, but some are very long buildings in which many [elephants] can be housed
together."
[1]

Johannes Vingbooms gave us a first view of Elephant Street on his - around 1665
published - drawing. We also find an indication of this street on de Courtaulin's map
being marked with "Escuries des Elephans" and on Bellin's map with "Rue des Elephans".
Coronelli, de La Loubère and de Courtaulin also mentioned the brick stables for the
elephants on both sides of the road on their maps.

Kaempfer a German medical doctor working for the VOC wrote in 1690:
"Within the
walls of the Palace as well as without, are to be seen long Stables, in which some
hundred of Elephants stand in a long row magnificently harnass'd."
[2]

Phraya Boran Rachathanin indicated on his
map drafted in 1926, between the Grand
Palace and Wat Phlabphlai Chai the names of three streets covering the whole stretch of
the old Elephant Street, being Thanon Na Bang Kra, Thanon Pa Takua (Lead market
street) and Thanon Nam Maprao (Coconut milk street).

Elephant Street was a brick road which was often used in processions and especially
during visits of the King to
Wat Racha Burana and Wat Maha That. [3]

An embassy sent by King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha of Lanka (Ceylon) arrived in 1751 in
Ayutthaya. The embassy resided at the
Dutch Settlement and partake in
different activities organized by the Siamese Court. Hereunder you find an extract out of
the account written by one of its ambassadors during the voyage, regarding their visit to
Elephant Street. [4]

"On the morning of the next day two officers came from the palace and took us on
horseback to the town; we arrived at a street one side of which was occupied by
two storied buildings and variously gilt elephant stalls; on the other side were
similar horse stables. It is impossible to give the number of horses and elephants,
male and female, that were here; the street was entirely occupied by the stables
and stalls, and there was no dwelling-house at all; we rested in a hall on the side
where the horse stables were."

Reference:

[1] A traveler in Siam in the Year 1655 - Gijsbert Heeck - translated by Terwiel (2008)
- page 59.
[2] The history of Japan, together with a description of the kingdom of Siam, 1690-92 -
Engelbert Kaempfer.
[3] อธิบายแผนที่พระนครศรีอยุธยากับคำวินิจฉัยของพระยาโบราฌราชาธานินท์
ฉบับชำระครั้งที่๒ และ ภูมิสถนกรุงศรีอยุธยา (2007) - pages 98-9.
[4] Religious Intercourse Between Ceylon and Siam in the Eighteenth Century - P.E.
Pieris (1908) - Bangkok Siam Observer Office - pages 22-3.
(Johannes Vingbooms)
(de Courtaulin)
(Coronelli)
(Bellin)
(de La Loubère)