WAT KHUN SAEN (วัดขุนแสน)
This deserted temple is located on U-Thong Road, west of the Hua Ro market. Its
present day boundary extends right to the base of the road. In fact, one of its chedi stops
right before the pavement begins, and motor vehicles actually curve around it.

As a restored ruin, Wat Khun Saen has many of its structures remaining. Its highlight is a
been expanded over the years, which creates the unique appearance of a small chedi
being consumed by a larger one. The view from the chedi’s western side provides an
idea about how these temples were sometimes expanded over preexisting structures. In
situ, there is also the basic foundation of a sermon hall, which includes pieces of Buddha
images and some sema stone. Portions of a wall can be seen surrounding the monastery.
Traces of several small chedi can also be seen on the premises, including the one located
right next to U-Thong Road. There are a number of large and interesting Bodhi tree on
site.

There isn’t a clear record of this temple’s construction date, but King Maha
Thammaracha (r. 1569-1590) persuaded two Mon aristocrats and their families to settle
in this area around 1584. This honor was in reward for their participation in Prince
Naresuan’s declaration of independence from the Burmese. The two Mon warriors were
named Phraya Kiat and Phraya Ram.

Royal Chronicles describe this story in great detail. While still technically allied with the
King Honsawadi of Burma, Prince Naresuan marched his troops to the City of Khraeng,
where they encamped near the monastery of the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong. King
Honsawadi, in the meantime, set up a plan to betray Prince Narasuaen - sending out an
army of 10,000 to ambush and kill him. Phraya Kiat and Phraya Ram were told by the
Burmese King Hongsawadi to make a flanking attack from the rear. Their orders were
to attack Prince Naresuan, seize his troops, and execute him (Cushman 88).

However, the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong was informed of this treachery and took
pity on Prince Naresuan. He arranged a meeting between Phraya Kiat, Phraya Ram, and
Prince Naresuan in which all was revealed. As a result, Prince Naresuan declared
revenge and announced that the two kingdoms “shall be totally divorced from each other
from this day to the end of kalpa.” (Cushman 89). He promised to escort the two Mon
leaders and the Holy reverent to the safety of Ayutthaya - fighting together against the
Burmese along the way.

While leading the Great Holy Thera Khan Chong and his relatives - and the families of
Phraya Kiat and Phraya Ram - back to Ayutthaya, Prince Naresuan defeated the
enraged Burmese in battle and Ayutthaya became independent once again. King Maha
Thammaracha (r. 1569-1590), the father of Prince Naresuan, rewarded the Mon
families in gratitude. Phraya Kiat and Phraya Phra Ram were directed to reside in the
vicinity of the Khamin Village and Wat Khun Saen. The relatives of Tera Khan Chong
were sent to live in a village behind
Wat Nok (Cushman 90).

In more recent times, King Rama IV (1851-1868) ordered Phraya Rajasongkram to
restore Wat Khun Saen and enlarge its central bell-shaped chedi. However, the King
died before this project could be finished. As a result, the restoration of Wat Khun Saen
was permanently halted and the monastery has remained inactive ever since (TAT 110).
Text by Ken May - August 2009
Photographs by Tricky Vandenberg & Ken May
Addendum 1

Wat Khun Saen is a restored ruin situated on the city island outside the Historical Park in
Hua Ro sub-district. The monastery is indicated on a map drafted during the reign of
King Rama III (1824 - 1851) and on
Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926.
Wat Song and Wat Racha Pruek stood in its immediate vicinity.

Hengpujaroen wrote that according to some old documents, the walls around the
Chan
Kasem Palace or Front Palace had a length of 50 Sen or approximately 2000 m. The
palace occupied thus an area roughly going from the
Unmilled Rice Fort (Pom Khao
Phluak) and
Wat Tha Sai towards the Maha Chai Fort; going down to the Ho
Ratanachai Gate and running back along the Ho Ratanachai canal towards the Unmilled
Rice Gate. The palace area should have included at least eight monasteries, which one of
them was Wat Khun Saen. The issue of a such large palace ground as mentioned here,
was although heavily discussed by scholars and rejected. [1]

References:

[1] The study of Chantharakasem Palace for developing the Management Plan - Nantana
Hengpujaroen (2003).
Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - November 2010
Addendum 2

In the "Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace" we read that
Wat Khun Saen was a monastery inside the palace with an ubosot (ordination hall), a
vihara (preaching hall), a teaching hall (kanburien), a reliquary stupa (Maha That) and a
number of satellite chedi. As this was a monastery inside the palace there were no monks
residing identical to the monastery of the Grand Palace, Wat Sri Sanphet. [1] This
confirms partly the writings on the Front Palace by Hengpujaroen.

References:

พรรณนาภูมิสถาน พระนครศรีอยุธยา เอกสารจากหอหลวง (ฉบับความสมบูรณ์)  
- Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace - Dr Winai
Pongsripian - Bangkok (2007) - page 56.
Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2013