WAT TAKRAI (วัดตะไคร้)
Wat Takrai or the "Monastery of the Lemon Grass" is a restored ruin located off the
city island in the northern area of Ayutthaya in Khlong Sra Bua sub-district. The temple
ruins are located west of
Khlong Sra Bua (Lit: Canal of the Lilly Pond).

The substantial site consists of an ordination hall, a vihara with large chedi, a prang and
several satellite chedis. The ordination hall (Th: ubosot) is a rectangular building, 16
meters long on 12 meters wide. There were two entries in the front and two in the back.
The pedestal for the Buddha's image stood west, indicating the statue was looking to the
east. The assembly or sermon hall (Th: wihan) is again a classic rectangular structure of
26 meters long and 12 meters wide. The building has porches in the front and in the
back. There are three entries in the front. Also here the main Buddha image faces east as
the pedestal stands in the west.

The large principal chedi is bell-shaped and stands on an octagonal base. Between the
spire (chatra) and the throne (harmika) is a kind of niche with stucco Buddha images,
indicative for the use of the Sukothai style in the reign of King Borommaracha II (r.
1424-1448) and Borommatrailokanat (r. 1448-1463).

The prang in situ dates from the Late Ayutthaya period  (1629 - 1767 AD). The base of
the prang is higher than the body. There are about 15 small bell-shaped chedis with an
octagonal base positioned north and south of the principal chedi. There are also two
square ablution ponds made of brick in a north-south alignment, typical for this
monastery.

The monastic complex is surrounded by an outer wall (Th: Kampheang Kaeo or crystal
wall), delimitating the monastic area. The wall measures 58 meters by 35 meters and had
two gates, one at the east and one at the south.  

The temple former grounds were very extensive, stretching down to Khlong Sra Bua,
creating a large courtyard needed for cremation ceremonies. Wat Takrai, located just
north of
Wat Na Phra Men, the crematory temple of the Royal palace was thus probably
also a crematory temple. The monastery is mentioned in the ancient Ayutthayan poem
Khun Chang Khun Phaen (the story of Khun Phaen, Khun Chang, and the fair Nang
Wanthong), as the place were Wanthong was cremated after being executed by royal
order and were Khun Chang and Phra Wai (her son with Khun Phaen) took temporarily
their vows.

"Saithong, who had been like her elder sister, recovered her senses and got up. She
thought of Wanthong forlornly and tears splashed down in torrents. She took leave
of Siprajan and went to board a boat, missing her terribly. She arrived at the
capital and went straight to the house of Khun Phaen. She went into his room and
asked, ‘Where’s Wanthong’s body?’Khun Phaen said, ‘Buried at
Wat Takrai.’ He
had someone take her there. Saithong descended from the ruean in tears. She
pushed herself along in a daze. At the graveyard, her sobbing worsened and she
collapsed down in a sad heap."
[1]

"
Khun Chang got the robes and had his head shaved. Holding the robes with his
hands in wai, he went in, opened his mouth, rolled his eyes and cried ‘uka.’ Then
he trembled with nerves and mumbled. He got everything mixed up, and could not
remember. ‘Please tell it to me, Luangta Nu. I’ve never “uka” before. Please
help.’ He raised the triple robe to hide his face, and followed the recitation. He put
on the robes, rolled the upper one on his shoulder, took the precepts, and came
out. He stayed in the kuti at
Wat Takrai for three nights, then disrobed and went
to Suphan. After Wanthong’s cremation was over, Phra Wai joyfully went to stay
in the monkhood for seven days. After disrobing he went to attend on the king."
[1]

In the manuscript "Testimony of the king from Wat Pradu Songtham", a document likely
compiled in the Early Ratanakosin period, is written that there was a land market from
the frontage of Wat Takrai down to the frontage of Wat Na Phra Men. [2][3][4]

Excavations indicate that this monastery was already built in the Early Ayutthaya period
(1350 - 1488 AD). The complex has been vacated during the Burmese war of 1766-
1767. In the Ratanakosin period the temple has been used again in the reigns of King
Rama IV (Mongkut) and Rama V (Chulalongkorn).

The site is indicated on
Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926.

Wat Takrai is located in Geo Coord: 14° 21' 55.45" N, 100° 33' 25.30" E.

References:

[1] The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen - Siam’s Great Folk Epic of Love and War -
Translated and edited by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit (2010) - Chap 36: The
execution of Wanthong.
[2] Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace - Dr Winai
Pongsripian - Bangkok (2007).
[3] Note on the Testimonies and the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of
the Siam Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 77 (paragraph on KWPS).
[4] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011- page 52-3.
Text by Tricky Vandenberg - November 2009
Updated November 2013
(Extract of Phra Boran Rachathanin's 1926 map)