WAT TONG PU
Wat Tong Pu is an active monastery located off the city island in the northeastern area
at Ban Ko sub-district. The monastery is located on the confluence of the new
Lopburi
River and the new Pa Sak River, opposite Wat Chong Lom island. Wat Sakei was
located on its west.

All constructions on the site are from recent time with exception of the bell tower, which
dates from King Narai's reign and looks identical to the one of
Wat Pradu Songtham. An
ancient Buddha statue (said to be from the 15th century), named Luang Phor To stood
before in the ordination hall (Th: ubosot). This ordination hall became over time a ruin
and the image stood in the open. In order not to damage the statue, it was decided not to
reconstruct the new ubosot over it. A small vihara was constructed over the ancient
statue to protect it.

The new ubosot was partly built on the ruins of the old one, but a slightly extended to the
west side. The hall is built in the late Ayutthaya style. It has two elevated porches in the
east and the west with each two entries to the hall. The roof is three-tiered and
supported by two columns over the porches. The hall has five windows on the northern
and southern sides. The main Buddha image in the ubosot faces east.

Curiously the Buddha image Luang Phor To looks to the west. This is uncommon, but
can be explained. The main Buddha statue of an ordination hall - the most important
building of a monastery - should in principle face water, and if this is not possible, it
should at least face to the east (the direction of the rising sun, is auspicious, representing
life). This could mean that at the time of the construction of the image, the (new) Pa Sak
River on the east side was not yet in existence (2) or it was decided to give the statue an
opposite direction due to the close vicinity of Wat Sakei. The image was thus
constructed facing the new Lopburi River, which must have been an existing canal in
Ayutthayan times, running parallel with the old Lopburi River.

The exact date of construction is unknown but according to some publication [1] the
temple must have been built before the reign of King Narai (r. 1656-1688). The same
source state that the vicinity of Wat Tong Pu, was a settlement area for Mon.

Chinese harassment of Burma started from 1648 onward. Ten year later, with the
Chinese still hanging around, agricultural activities slow down and shortage of rice
occurred. Lower Burma became disturbed. In 1661, the Prince of Prome raised an
insurrection, and was crowned as King Maha Pawara Dhamma Raja. In 1662, the
Governor of Martaban (1) ordered a force of 3000 men out of his municipalities, to help
the King of Burma in defending Ava and to expel the Chinese. A large number of Mon
escaped the force and returned to Martaban. The Governor arrested the Mon who fled
back, put them in cages and threatened to burn them to death. Five thousand Mon
advanced on Martaban, burned down the town and took the Governor in custody. The
Talaing insurgents could hold the town for a while, but realized they would not escape
the wrath of the King of Ava. The Talaings assembled their families and with more than
10.000 people started their flight to Siam in direction of the Three Pagoda Pass. A front
guard advanced to Kanchanaburi in order to give account of the occurrences to King
Narai. The King sent some thousand Mon troop to meet them and to guide the refugees
to Kanchanaburi. [2] The Mon nobles were received for an audience at the court and
arrangements were made to harbour the families in the vicinity of Samkhok, partly near
Khlong Khu Cham [4] (in the vicinity of the Monastery of the Mud of the Shell Harbor
[3]) and partly in the neighborhood of the Monastery of the Card Slap [4]. A Burmese
force was sent down and reoccupied Martaban.  

The settlement issue: 1. Samkhok in present Pathum Thani province is well known as a
former settlement location of the Mon. 2. The references [3] en [4] relate to
Wat Tha
Hoy (Monastery of the Landing of the Shell fish) on the east bank of Khlong Khu Cham.
3. The Monastery of the Card Slap's location could though not be traced. Reference [1]
state that a number of the above Mon refugees were settled by King Narai in the vicinity
of Wat Tong Pu. The latter is doubtful as the translated eight versions of the Royal
Chronicles of Ayutthaya (Cushman - 2006), makes no reference of Wat Tong Pu.

The site is not indicated on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926.

Footnotes:

(1) Martaban, now called Mottama is located in Thaton district of the Mon State in
Myanmar. Mottama was the first capital of the Hongsawadi Kingdom in the 13th and
14th centuries. The small port of Martaban, located at the mouth of the Thanlwin across
the river from Mawlamyine, was famous for its glazed pottery.
(2) The Pa Sak River's old  riverbed was present
Khlong Hantra.

References:

[1] Art & Culture Magazine Silapa - March 2010 - page 52.
[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 256 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat.
[3] Ibid - page 257.
[4] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 258 /
Source: Royal Autograph.
(View from the Pa Sak River)
(The new ordination hall)
(Main Buddha image in the ordination hall)
(Vihara of Luang Phor To)
(Luang Phor To)
(Vihara of Luang Phor Hin)
(The old Bell Tower)
(Luang Phor To in earlier times)
(Luang Phor Hin)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - March 2010
(Satellite chedi in situ)