WAT RATANACHAI วัดร้ตนชัย (จีน)
This active temple is located on the city island along U-Thong Road. It can be easily
found east of the Riverview Hotel. This monastery is more commonly known under the
name of
Wat Jin today, because many Teochiu Chinese migrated to this part of the city
in the latest century. Wat Ratanachai is located near the
Pa Sak River, which makes it
prone to seasonal flooding.

As an active monastery, Wat Ratanachai has all the basic architecture structures of a
Buddhist temple: sermon hall, bell tower, monk quarters, crematory furnace, and a
number of chedi. Nearly all of these architectural structures date to the Ratanakosin
period. The highlight of this monastery is its central bell shaped chedi, which has been
painted white. This structure is perched on a large platform with several deep niches in its
side. A single staircase leads to the bell-shaped chedi above. There are also several
small chedi in the vicinity, some in Ayutthaya-period styles, and sections of an ancient
wall are till in situ. Locals have told me that the sermon hall also dates back to the
Ayutthaya Kingdom. A well-preserved pointed vault gate (
Pratu Chong Kut) can be
seen next to Wat Ratanachai. To visit it, you must enter the school west of this temple.

Wat Ratanachai was located near three fortresses:
Pom Phet, Pom Racha Clu, and Pom
Ho Rachakru
. This area was very important for foreign trade during the Ayutthaya
period because a major boat dock and many warehouses were nearby. A large,
maritime, Chinese community lived and traded around this temple in ancient times. Wat
Ratanachai may appear on
de La Mare’s 1751 map as a Chinese pagoda, but this could
also be
Wat Suwan Dararam as well. The same map shows that a college was located
close to this monastery, which had some connection to the Greek minister Constantin
Phaulcon (Ok Ya Wichayen).

Royal Chronicles mention this site in reference to a battle to claim the throne.  The
younger brother of 11-year-old
King Yot Fa (who was executed in 1548), Prince Si
Sin, gathered followers together and staged a rebellion. A revered monk provided him
with an auspicious date to attack the Royal Palace, Prince Si Sin then advanced by way
of the Ratanachai Tower (gate) and moved toward the palace on the back of an elephant
to stage an attack. Caophraya Maha Sena rode out on a white elephant to stop him, but
was killed by Prince Si Sin’s scythe. Prince Si Sin attacked the temple at the
Sao Thong
Chai Gate
, which is located next to Wat Thammikarat, where he had been imprisoned
earlier by
King Chakkraphat. This surprise attack forced the king to flee the palace.
However, Prince Si Sin was eventually killed in battle by gunfire. As a warning against
future rebellions, the prince’s colleagues and some of their wives were executed and
impaled next to the body of Prince Si Sin (see Cushman 41-42).

In 1569, shortly after the death of King Chakkraphat,
King Mahin took over the throne
and continued to battle with the Burmese, who had resumed their effort to siege the city.
King Hongsawadi sent troops in to attack the stockade at the edge of the river on
the side of Rattanachai Gate
” (Cushman 64). The Burmese continued to attack from
the east while trying to build a causeway to the other side. By the end of the year King
Mahin had died and Ayutthaya had become a vassal state to their Burmese conquerors.
Text & photographs by Ken May - Aug 2009