WAT THA SAI 1 (วัดท่าทราย)
This restored temple ruin is located on the city island along U-Thong Road. It is
situated near the bridge that crosses
Khlong Mueang toward Wat Wong Khong.
Although it could be technically classified as a ruin, Wat Tha Sai is now considered part
of Wat
Racha Praditsathan’s property. The latter is an active monastery.

Wat Tha Sai was located next to
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak, which once separated it
from Wat Rachapraditsathan (on the opposite side of the canal). This canal has been
filled in, for the most part, leaving a small pond on the premises. Traces of a fortress
Pom Khao Pluak) and a water gate (Pratu Khao Pluak) can still be seen in situ.

There are many ancient architectural structures on site. The central chedi resembles a
style most commonly associated with the Haripunchai Kingdom. The chedi takes the
shape of an octagonal tower with multiple arched niches that hold standing Buddha
images - several of which can still be seen today. This style of chedi can be seen in
Lamphun, which suggests that this monastery might have had some connection with the
Lanna kingdom. There are at least three chedis in Ayutthaya with a similar style:
Sangkha Tha in the Queen Sri Nakharin Park, Wat Sangkha Pat in the Ayutthaya
Historical Park, and the chedi inside the boundary walls of
Wat Maha That.

In the location where the original sermon hall would have been, is an open-air shrine
containing several rows of beautiful, white-painted, mediating Buddha images. A
makeshift tin roof was constructed in situ, but it collapsed due to a major wind storm in
July 2009. Unfortunately, the collapsed roof caused major damage to the Buddha images
and several chedis, and it will require significant funding to make repairs.

Also is situ at Wat Tha Sai are several bell-shaped chedis and dozens of memorial
monuments (with a surprisingly large amount of Chinese headstones). An old ubosot
stands to the south of the shrine, part of its tiled roof still intact. A second building rests
behind it. Although badly dilapidated and covered in graffiti, inside the second structure,
there are the remains of several Buddha images within arched niches. Wat Tha Sai has
also several shrines including a reclining Buddha image. A large modern mandapa
covered in brown tiles really stands out on the premises, but this is usually closed to
public viewing.

The history of Wat Tha Sai is unclear. In the Ayutthaya period, Wat Tha Sai was an
ferry crossing point that was connected to Wat Wong Khong on the other side
(Kasetsiri & Hedges 329). This monastery was set in a prime location because of its
access to the watergate in front of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak. Royal Chronicles point out
that enemy troops from Lawaek - Cambodia - were posted at Wat Rong Khong
Monastery in 1570 (Cushman 77). Some sources say that Wat Tha Sai also played a
role in this war with Lawaek troops. Locals have claimed that the enemy fired rounds
toward the fortress next to Wat Tha Sai and attempted to collapse the walls in front of
this monastery. However, more investigation needs to be made about this claim.
Buddha image in the location of the former vihara
Reclining Buddha behind a monastic structure
(Satellite chedi on the premises of Wat Tha Sai
Storm damage in July 2009
(Buddha image in the location of the former vihara)
(Reclining Buddha behind a monastic structure)
(Satellite chedi on the premises of Wat Tha Sai)
(Storm damage in July 2009)
Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map
Detail of a 19th century map
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map

Wat Tha Sai is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. King Prasat Thong (r.
1629-1656) was celebrating Khao Phansa at Wat Sri Sanphet, circumambulating the
main vihara when he saw the youngest son of King Songtham (r. 1610/1611-1628)
sitting on the inner wall, observing the procession, not paying his respects to the King.
The ten year old Prince Athittayawong was made king of Ayutthaya in 1629, after the
execution of his older brother, King  Chettha (r. 1628 - 1629), but due to his childhood
dethroned by the Kalahom, the Minister of Defense after five weeks. The latter, the new
King Prasat Thong, got him punished by stripping of his rank and sending him out of the
Grand Palace area in exile near Wat Tha Sai. To be correct I need to mention that it
could also have been possible Wat Tha Sai in the Khlong Khu Cham area; an area often
used to exile prominent persons during the Ayutthaya era.     

When it was the beginning of the [BCEF: holy] monsoon season in the eighth
lunar month, the Supreme-Holy-Lord-Omnipotent proceeded forth with His
concubines and beautiful royal ladies to venerate and light [BCEF: holy] monsoon
season candles [E: in a major presentation] to the statue of the [BCDF: Holy]
Buddha at the Monastery of the [EF: Holy and] [CDEF: Glorious] Omniscient
One. His Majesty came on a tour in front of the [BCDF: large] [BCEF: holy]
preaching hall and, glancing with His holy eyes, saw Holy Athittayawong, the [F:
holy] royal son of Holy-Lord Song Tham who had been removed from the royal
wealth, ascend and sit dangling his feet [BCDF: upon the back of] [E: behind] the
crystal wall. Indicating him with His holy hand the King said, "[D: Holy]
Athittayawong is rash in failing to descend from the crystal wall in order to be
lower [than the King]. Strip Holy Athittayawong of his rank and send someone to
build two houses with bamboo posts and two rooms beside the
Monastery of Sand
for [D: Holy] Athittayawong to Have two people live with him - [BDEF:
just] enough [B: to stay] to dip up water and cook rice." After the order His
Majesty entered the [C: inner] holy royal palace.

During the Burmese attack on Ayutthaya a large fire broke out end 1766 in the vicinity of
Wat Tha Sai. The fire, likely supported by the northern wind of the cool season, raged
until Thon Market and
Wat Chatthan. Ten thousand structures, being temples and
houses, were burned during that night.

During [C: When it was] the first month of the year of the dog, eighth of the
decade, in the evening, a fire broke out at
Sand Landing, burned and spread [C:
on] in to the Bridge of the Elephants, and [B: came across] [CD: crossed] and
ignited the Coconut Forest, the Thon Forest, the Charcoal Forest, the Flame Tree
Forest, the Grass Forest, [B: all the way to] the Monastery of the Royal Repairs
and [B: the Monastery of] the Holy Grand Reliquary. The fire continued and
stopped [B: by] [CD: only at] the Monastery of Chatthan.

The ruins of Wat Tha Sai are located in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 47.27" N,
100° 34' 8.57" E.


[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 217 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - King Prasat Thong, 1629-1636.
[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 514 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Reverend Phonnarat - Phræ Deserts the
Burmese Forces.
Addendum & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - December 2015
(Detail of a 19th century map - Courtesy of the Sam
Chao Phraya Museum - map is orientated S-N)
(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)
(Text by Ken May - August 2009)