Ayutthaya Maha Prasat (Ayutthaya Great Castle) is located on an islet in the middle
Bueng Phra Ram, a marshy lake in the center of the City of Ayutthaya. The islet is only
accessible through a foot bridge.

The shrine was built 1968-1970 and dedicated to the spirit of King U-Thong, the
founder of Ayutthaya and the other kings of the Ayutthaya period.

There are different accounts on the founding of Ayutthaya [1], but in general - with or
without the miracles - the legend goes that Prince U-Thong had to migrate south due to a
plague in his city state (the exact place is still food for discussion) and sought a suitable
location to settle down. The prince came to an area called "Nong Sano" or "Sano
Swamp", where he encountered a hermit (rusi). The hermit claimed he had been there
since the time of the Buddha and that the Buddha came to that place and prophesied that
one day a great city would been built there. So Prince U-Thong decided to construct a
new city on the spot and established Ayutthaya on 4 March 1351, to rule over it with the
title of King Ramathibodhi I.

"In 712, a year of the tiger, on Friday, the sixth day of the waxing moon of the
fifth month, at three nalika and nine bat after the break of dawn, the Capital City
of Ayutthaya was first established."

The shrine has been supposedly built on the place where Brahman priests obtained a
conch shell, which turned to the right, beneath a sebesten (1) bush, when performing the
Rite of Atonement (founding ceremony for the city). Following the legend King U-Thong
had a tiny castle built to house the shell.

The Prasat is a beautiful shrine on a two-indented base and with a nicely decorated roof
with three spires, worthwhile a visit.

A statue of King Ramathibodi I (King U - Thong) is enshrined within on a marble
pedestal in which, - the story goes - his spirit and the spirits of five former Ayutthayan
kings remain.

The celestial pavilion is depicted in Ayutthaya's provincial seal under a Manjack tree,
while a conch is placed on a pedestal tray within.


(1) Sebesten is an edible fruit coming from the Fragrant Manjack tree (Cordia
dichotoma). Cordia is a genus of shrubs and trees in the borage family, Boraginaceae.
Around 300 species have been identified worldwide and are commonly called Manjack.


[1] The Rise of Ayudhya - Charnvit Kasetsiri - 1976 Oxford University press - page 61-
[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya – Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 10 /
Source: Luang Prasoet.
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2009
(Ayutthaya Maha Prasat - front side)
(Ayutthaya Maha Prasat - back side)
(U-Thong shrine)
(Photograph by Hugo Debruyn - March 2009)
(Ayutthaya's provincial seal)