Rising high above rice paddies in the countryside just outside of Ayutthaya, Chedi Phu Khao Thong is an impressive chedi whose name translates as “Golden Mount” -- if you're curious why a blazing white chedi is labeled as “golden”, read on.
A monastery was first established here by order of King Ramesuan in 1395, but it wasn’t until some time later that a human-made hill was added and probably topped by a golden chedi, not unlike Wat Saket’s Golden Mount that came much later down in Bangkok, perhaps. While the name stuck, it wasn’t long before the golden hill was replaced by a white chedi -- or at least the beginnings of one.
Fresh off a successful invasion of Ayutthaya in 1569, the Burmese king Bhureng Noung ordered a Mon/Burmese-style chedi to be built here. His vassal left it unfinished by the time that Ayutthaya was retaken by the Siamese in 1590. Most of the structure that can be seen today was constructed by order of King Borommakat in the mid-18th century. The chedi finally earned its name in 1956, when a solid gold ball weighing 2.5 kilograms was placed inside.
Sporting a slender spire atop a massive four-sided base with multiple ridges, the slightly lopsided chedi is one of Ayutthaya’s more imposing monuments. Visitors can climb the base for a good view of the surrounds; we arrived to find a lone monk meditating beside a couple of napping dogs.
The site receives few foreign visitors due to an out-of-the-way location and a related monastery that has little of interest -- it’s pretty much just the chedi. However a large statue of King Naresuan sits in a park that was created adjacent to the chedi in more recent times, as if to plant a Thai flag in this patch of formerly Burmese-controlled land once and for all.
How to get there
Chedi Phu Khao Thong is located three km outside of town to the northwest, about a 20-minute bicycle ride from the Historical Park. Route 309 cuts north off Uthong Rd, next to the Million Toy Museum, and crosses the Mueang Canal before leading straight to the main entrance. The more pleasant way is to continue west from Wat Choeng Tha, cross Route 309 and follow the road as it meanders through villages just north of the Chao Phraya River. Before long the giant chedi will appear over the rice paddies on the right (east). If going this way, you'll need to cross over a sandy path to reach it, as the main entrance is off 309.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th February, 2016.