Photo: Shawled Buddha, Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat

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Arguably the most impressive site in Si Satchanalai, Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat is layered with Mon, Khmer and Thai religious artistry, and is today an active royal-grade Theravada Buddhist temple set at the end of an oxbow in the Yom River -- don’t let the slightly out-of-the-way location keep you from coming.

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Also known as Wat Phra Borommathat Chaliang or Wat Phra Phrang, the temple is usually referred to simply as Wat Phra Si. The considerable presence of Khmer-style art hints that it could have been established as early as the 11th century, and it may have been a Dvaravati religious site even earlier. With the Yom flowing past to the east before looping back west, the land would have been seen as a suitable location for a sacred shrine or temple.

The main affair at Wat Phra Si. Photo taken in or around Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Si Satchanalai, Thailand by David Luekens.

The main affair at Wat Phra Si. Photo: David Luekens

Delicate apsaras and other carvings join four striking faces representing the Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva Avolokitesvara on a small tower above the front gate. A much larger Khmer-style corncob-shaped prang stands just beyond the gate and is in fantastic condition.

A large Sukhothai-style Buddha image in the subduing Mara posture sits on the base of a wihaan that fronts the prang -- it was added around the 14th century when Sukhothai kings transformed a number of ancient Khmer-style sites into Thai Theravada temples. Elegant Sukhothai-style walking Buddha images are placed on either side of the wihaan’s laterite walls.

Offerings between the feet. Photo taken in or around Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Si Satchanalai, Thailand by David Luekens.

Offerings between the feet. Photo: David Luekens

The oddball of the complex is a Mon-style chedi with a massive base made of laterite bricks and a broken upper section -- it appears to be the great grandpa of Wat Phra Si’s many attributes. It sits alone surrounded by a lawn between the temple’s largest section around the prang and a second area out back with a few more ... Travelfish members only (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat is located three kilometres east of Si Satchanalai Historical Park at the far eastern end of the riverside lane, in ancient Chaliang. It’s a separate attraction overseen by the active temple community. Admission is 20 baht.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Daily 08:00-17:00.
Admission: 20 baht

Location map for Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat

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