WAT LAISO
Wat Laiso is located off the main island in the northern part of Ayutthaya. This ruin is
situated in a swampy area between
Khlong Sra Bua and Khlong Pla Mo - both canals
are now partially buried and seldom used. The nearest, easy-to-find, landmark is
Wat
Chao Ya; however, Wat Laiso is one of the most difficult ruins to access. It is found in a
remote area that is covered in heavy vegetation. Residential areas prevent motor vehicles
from ever reaching it, and larger boats are also hindered due to the blockage of both
canals upstream. The only way to access Wat Laiso is by using a small boat to paddle
around the vegetation-laden pond situated in front of the ruin, and there are only a few
places where such a boat could possibly be launched. Use caution when attempting to
visit this site. There are a variety of poisonous snakes and a number of parasitic critters in
the vicinity.

Wat Laiso was built with an east/west axis. Given its remote location and ongoing
problems with seasonal flooding, it is somewhat surprising to find that several structures
have survived. There is a large bell shaped chedi in situ. This has greatly eroded, but
there are still several stucco rings viewable around the base of the relic chamber.
However, the relic chamber itself has been greatly plundered by looters. A large hole has
been tunneled completely through the relic chamber and several niches have been dug
out in order to find valuables. At least four large holes have been burrowed inside it. On
the southern side of this chedi, there is clear evidence that additional layers were added
to the original at later dates. As a result, the chedi’s size was expanded at least twice
while the temple was still in operation. The chedi’s harmika and spire are gone;
presumably buried by vegetation somewhere nearby.

In front of the chedi (to its east) is a single wall of a former sermon hall. A large Bodhi
tree has grown from the top of the wall downward and covers a major portion. There is
stucco on one side of the wall, but its thickness implies that this mortar was added at a
later date (perhaps as a form of protection). The other walls of the sermon hall have
crumbled to the ground below leaving a large mound in situ. In addition, there is also a
small chedi on site. The small circular chedi was probably bell-shaped at one point, but
erosion over the years has partially changed its shape. It is now completely flat on the
top and has lost most of its stucco. Looters have dug a hole into the small chedi as well.

A surprisingly large number of Buddha images are still in situ, and some of them are fairly
large. For the most part, these Buddha images consist of only the lower portion, which
are crossed legged with chiseled feet and hands still visible. There are also a few mid-
portions with robe-covered chests; however, no heads are viewable above the ground.
In addition, there are clear traces of monastery walls around Wat Laiso and evidence of
a former moat.

Unfortunately, the history of this monastery has not survived. There is almost nothing
known about it or when it was originally established. Its architecture suggests that it was
designed in the Middle Ayutthaya period. It must have had some importance to the local
community as its primary chedi was expanded at least twice, which suggests that it once
had significant funding. The Fine Arts Department’s 1957 guidebook shows that a third
canal (
Khlong Pha Lai) flowed from east to west just north of Wat Laiso and Wat
Raeng. This later canal was used to strategically connect Khlong Sra Bua and Khlong
Pla Mo, and this prime location may have contributed the temple’s construction.
Nevertheless, Wat Laiso is curiously missing on Praya Boran Rachathanin’s 1926 map,
and it doesn’t appear by name on any map until 1993, when the Fine Arts Department
mentions it.
Text & photographs by Ken May - September 2009