Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat was once a royal temple where King Narai and regional governors would have come to perform official religious ceremonies.
No one knows exactly when it was established, but an unusual blend of art and architecture indicate that it also played a prominent role when the Khmer ruled the area in the 13th century.
Made of laterite and mortar, the central Khmer-style prang towers close to 30 metres high. Its gable displays pieces of Lavo art reflecting Mahayana Buddhist beliefs, while the gopura (arched gate) boasts hints of exquisite detail.
You’ll also find details on the smaller surrounding prangs and chedis: wander to the northern edge of the complex to see animated depictions of thep phanom angels at the corners of parallel ridges on a very unusual chedi. The anonymous artists also got creative with a narrow bell-shaped chedi sporting seated Buddha images in niches topped by rings of intricate vine and flower designs.
Fronting the main prang is a badly damaged frame of a large brick wihaan built during the Ayutthaya period. Nearby stands a remarkably well-preserved hall with an intact roof and French Gothic windows.
Like the remains of temples with similar names in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, Lopburi’s Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat covers a large area that’s a pleasure to wander around. Plan on spending a half-hour here.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 7th September, 2016.