WAT THA (KA RONG) (วัดท่าการ้อง)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2009
Updated June 2020
The ordination hall of Wat Tha
Old monastic structure in situ
The ordination hall of Wat Tha
Sema stones of Wat Tha
Image of the Buddha
(The ordination hall of Wat Tha)
(Octagonal bell tower in situ)
(Image of the Buddha Luang Pho Yim)
(The ordination hall of Wat Tha)
(Sema stones of Wat Tha)
Detail of a 19th century map
Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map
(Detail of a 19th century map - Courtesy Sam Chao
Phraya Museum)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno
(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)
Wat Tha or the Monastery of the Landing was located off the city island in the
western area in Ban Pom Sub-district. The monastery stood on the south bank of the
present Chao Phraya River and in the immediate vicinity of
Wat Ka Rong. Its former site
is now the location of the present-day Tha Ka Rong monastery.

Depending on which version of the Ayutthayan chronicles is consulted, sources speak
about Wat Ka Rong or Wat Tha Ka Rong or the
Monastery of the Landing of the
Crying Crow
; Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map of 1926 indicates clearly two monastic
structures being Wat Tha (Monastery of the Landing) and Wat Ka Rong (Monastery of
the Crying Crow). The two temples were eventually merged to establish the present Wat
Tha Ka Rong or the
Monastery of the Landing of the Crying Crow.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand on their website writes that Wat Tha Ka Rong was
mentioned two times in the Royal Chronicles as a fortification for the Burmese troops.
The first time would have been during the reign of King Maha Chakkraphat (reign
1548-1569 in 1563 during the 'White Elephant War' when King Tabinshwehti and his
army encamped at the temple, but I could not find any trace of that, while I believe this
must simply be an assumption. The Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention the temple's
existence for the first time at the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 with the establishment of a
stockade and the positioning of large guns, at or near the premises of the temple.

Nemiao thereupon advanced troops of soldiers forward to establish his main
stockade in the Vicinity of the Three Fig Trees, had them raze the recitation hall
and preaching hall of the monastery and bring the bricks to build a surrounding
wall to form the stockade. Then he conscripted and had all the army masters
advance forward to establish stockades at the Monastery of the Gold Mountain,
[at] the Village of the Fort and [at] the Monastery of the Crying Crow. He had
them erect bastions and build forts so they were tall, take large and small guns up
[into them] and fire them on into the Holy Metropolis.

The chronicles recount also the story of the Ayutthaya counter-attack on the Burmese
fortification at the Tha Ka Rong monastery. Prince Damrong recites it as follows:

The Siamese saw that the Burmese were approaching the city and establishing a
fortification at the Tha Ka Rong monastery as an alignment for big guns to fire
into the city.  They therefore made the boat force go and attack the Burmese
fortification.  The boat force that went on this occasion consisted of six groups of
volunteers from the army department, but it is not stated who was the
commander.  It is only said that one Nai Roek, holding swords in both hands,
danced at the prow of a boat.  The Burmese shot at the boats. Nai Roek was hit
and fell into the water. Then all the boats of the boat force returned to the city. To
judge from the circumstances narrated, it was certainly due to the belief in the art
of charms and incantations. Nai Roek was probably an adept in that art, dancing
with his sword, muttering his incantations at the head of the army, having faith in
being able to ensure the safety of the entire force. When the adept himself was hit
by a gun and died, the people of the force became disheartened and afraid, and the
commander of the force thought that if he persisted in the fight, he would only
suffer rout and would meet his death with no benefit whatever.  Therefore they
retreated and returned to the capital.

We can assume that nothing much was left of the monastery after the fall of Ayutthaya
and that the temple we see today, has been completely reconstructed.

The landing near Wat Tha was in the Ayutthaya era the home base for the riverine
vessels. The riverine vessel dockyard provided shelter for approximately two hundred

In the vicinity of Wat Tha Ka Rong Village, there is a row of thirty boathouses for
freshwater war boats. The pillars are of makha wood [Afzelia xylocarpa] and
roofs of luk-fuk tiles. Some house ten boats, some six, according to the size of boat.
There are minor officials and royal phrai to look after them each month. If there is
a war, two hundred boats can be caulked, hauled out from the dry docks in the
boathouses, and used immediately on royal service.

Wat Tha Ka Rong was situated on the river bank just north of the confluence of the
Bang Kaeo waterway and the old Lopburi River (today the Chao Phraya River after its
deviation in the second part of the 19th century) stood in an important strategical position
in wartime, as next to an important dockyard, it controlled also the northern water route.

Older monastic structures still can be seen at Wat Tha Ka Rong but they are difficult to
discern, as the temple site expanded over time to become a Buddhist fancy fair. The
octagonal bell tower from brick and plasterwork is said to have been built during the
reign of King Narai (reign 1656-1688). The main Buddha image in the ordination hall is
Luang Pho Yim with the formal name Phra Phuttha Ratana Mongkhon. The ordination
hall is nowadays hidden under a canopy of banners and neon lights. The whole area
surrounding the ubosot, is carnivalesque, with a lot of donation encouraging mechanisms
(even targeting the children). The irrational juxtaposition of pious images of different
religions borders surrealism. There are many corners and rooms dedicated to different
gods and half-gods.

Along the Chao Phraya River are long rafts with stores selling food and other
merchandise. On the weekends a modern representation of an old water market is
attracting the crowd.

The site is located in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 28.71" N, 100° 32' 36.56" E.


[1] Cushman, Richard D. (2006) - The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - page 519 /
Source: Royal Autograph - The Burmese Tighten the Noose Around Ayutthaya.
[2] Rajanubhab, Damrong (Prince)  - Our Wars with the Burmese (1917) - White
Lotus, Bangkok (2000) - page 165 - War No. 24. - When the Siamese capital was lost
subsequently.  The year of the pig, B.E. 2310 (A.D. 1767).
[3] Baker, Chris - The Grand Palace in the Description of Ayutthaya: Translation and
Commentary - Journal of the Siam Society Volume 101 (2013) - Page 103.