|WAT SOP SAWAN (วัดศพสวรรค์)
|Wat Sop Sawan or the Monastery of the Heavenly Corpse is an active monastery
located off the city island in the northern area of Ayutthaya in Pho Sam Ton Sub-district
of Bang Pahan in Ayutthaya Province. The temple is situated near the confluence of the
Lopburi River and Khlong Ko Loeng on the right bank of the first.
The story goes that in the Ayutthayan Era a boat accidentally capsized in the Lopburi
River with a princess on board. The lady fell in the river, but nobody dared to drag her
out of the water as at that time the law forbade commoners to touch a member of the
royal family on pain of death penalty. The lady drowned and her body was swept away
by the river.
People living in the vicinity of the place of accident found her body about 1600 meters
downstream (which lead to the suggestion that the capsizing occurred at the confluence
of Khlong Thom or the Lam Lao, just south of Wat Khai). The palace officials were
informed and the corpse retrieved from the river. The funeral and cremation of the late
princess was done at the spot and a monastery was established as a memorial on the
cremation site. The temple was called Wat Sop Sawan Pak Nam (วัดศพสวรรค์
ปากน้ำ), but known locally as Wat Pak Nam Phra Sop ( ปากน้ำประสบ), Wat Pop
Sop (พบศพ) or Wat Pho Sop (โพสพ). The finder of the body of the deceased
princess, being part of a group of Lao immigrants, received the title of Phraya Thai Nam
(พระยาท้ายน้ำ - Downstream Lord) and the area was called Ban Lao thereafter.
During the Burmese attack on Ayutthaya in 1767, Ban Lao was vacated and the
monastery destroyed in the fight between Phraya Tak and the Mon-Burmese of Pho Sam
Ton camp. After the war, the Lao returned and rebuilt their temple.
During the reign of King Chulalongkorn, the villagers of Ban Muang ordered the
construction of an ordination hall. Chinese workers built the hall and instead of returning
home, they settled down near Wat Sing. The monastery flourished under the wealthy man
Nai Son until 1897 AD. After that date decay set in and the temple was left by the monk
hood in 1907 AD. As the community in the area grew, the temple was rebuilt in 1937
and called Wat Sop Sawan until today.
Wat Sop Sawan is situated in geographical coordinates: 14° 25' 53.11" N, 100° 33'
|Text & images by Tricky Vandenberg - December 2012
Updated July 2015
|(The ordination hall of Wat Sop Sawan)