WAT LOKAYA SUTHA (วัดโลกยสุธา)
Wat Lokaya Sutha is located directly west of the Royal Palace. It is part of a park
that includes three restored ruins including
Wat Worachet and the original Wat Worapo.
It is easiest to access this site via the western side of Khlong Tho. There is a small side
alley leading to it as well as a newly constructed road. Wat Lokaya Sutha can also be
accessed from a third road in its southwestern corner, which also serves as a route to
Chedi Suriyothai.

Wat Lokaya Sutha is a massive temple ruin. It is aligned toward an east/west axis. There
are two small chedi outside of its compound, and a portion of the spire of a third chedi is
still in situ. These are all in a late-Ayutthaya period style. The monastery itself has been
heavily restored, including floor tiles and brick floors throughout. Most of the temple
exists only at the basic foundation level. This includes some stubs of pillars and basic
walls. At the eastern entrance are the remnants of three vihans. Behind these sermon
halls is a large 30 meters high, Late Ayutthaya period, Khmer-style prang (Kasetsiri &
Wright 92). This prang-tower has a hollow entrance on its eastern side. The remains of
an ubsot can be seen behind the prang. Only the basic foundation layer has survived, but
there are many sema stones and the detritus of Buddha images. A large bell tower stands
on the southwestern corner of this ubosot.

The highlight of this temple is its enormous reclining Buddha image (37 meters long and 8
meter high), which is located behind the ubosot. It was once encased by a viharn, but
that has also collapsed to the basic foundation level. The reclining Buddha is 42 meters in
length and 8 meters high, and its name is "Phra Buddha Sai Yat". The reclining Buddha
image is aligned to a north/south axis, and it is facing west. All the Buddha’s toes are of
equal lengths. The arm supporting the head is vertical, instead of being folded as in the
Early Ayutthaya and U-Thong periods. This vertical arm is a characteristic of reclining
images made in the Middle Ayutthaya period - after the 16th century (Amatyakul 47).
The reclining Buddha image is usually wrapped in brightly colored orange cloth.  A small
altar exists beside it where visitors can make offerings. Many people have covered
portions of the image in gold leaf.

There is an interesting Lanna-style chedi northwest of the reclining Buddha image. This
non-restored chedi is often buried in heavy vegetation, so it may be difficult to see.
Nevertheless, it is one of the most amazing sights at this temple ruin. This chedi has an
octagonal base, and it takes an almost prang-like shape. However, the stucco is very
well preserved. There are a large number of arched niches built around the relic
chamber. Many of these niches still have standing Buddha images formed from stucco
(including their heads). There are also several meditating Buddha images near the spire.
These are also fairly well preserved. This type of architectural is sometimes associated
with the Haripunchai Kingdom in Lamphun - implying that this monastery may have
provided services to be people from the north.

There was once a canal leading from Chao Phraya River to the Royal Palace, which
passed by Wat Lokaya Sutha. Although the canals ancient name is unclear, on some
modern maps it is referred to as
Khlong Fang. This canal formed a moat around Wat
Lokaya Sutha, and its connection to the Royal Palace implies that this monastery once
had great importance. However, despite its massive size and prime location, there isn’t
much known about the history of Wat Lokaya Sutha.

The reclining Buddha image was restored in 1954 by the Alcoholic Beverages Factory
(once located in the same neighborhood). It was restored again in 1956 during the time
of Field Marshall Phibunsongkhram (Kasetsiri & Wright 94-95). This prime minister also
did major renovations in the
Ayutthaya Historical Park at the same time. In 1989, the
family of former Prime Minister Luang Thamrongwasawat (1946-1947) contributed to
renovations at this monastery. The Fine Arts department has continued to maintain it
since then.
Text & photographs by Ken May - August 2009
Addendum

The site is indicated on a mid-19th century map in an identical position as on Phraya
Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926. The mid-19th century map indicates the
existence of a prang, which at present still can be seen. There is also an inscription
mentioning the large reclining Buddha in situ, which has been renovated in 1956 by the
Fine Arts Department (2).

On the oldest map (วัดโลกย์สุธา) (1) and on the PBR map (วัดโลกสุธา) the temple is
called Wat Lok Sutha, which can be translated as the "Monastery of the Celestial
World". At present the ruin is called Wat Lokaya Sutha (วัดโลกยสุธา). Where this
present name derivation comes from is not known to the author.

Footnotes:

(1) โลก = world; สุธา = celestial; สุธรรม = Good Dharma.
(2) Explanatory FAD board in situ.
Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2011
(Main prang)
(Reclining Buddha image)
(Reclining Buddha image)
(Stucco of northwestern chedi)
(View of northwestern chedi)
(Buddha heads excavated at the site of Wat Lokaya Sutha and displayed at the vihara of Wat Mongkhon Bophit)