As a lover of Thai culture and history, I'm always on the lookout for hidden gems that provide a unique glimpse into the country's past. And when it comes to ancient capitals, Ayutthaya definitely tops the list. The city, founded in 1350, was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai and was once a prosperous trading hub and home to dozens of stunning temples and palaces.
While the majority of Ayutthaya's landmarks are heavily influenced by Buddhism, there are a few lesser-known gems that provide a fascinating peek into the city's Hindu-inspired past. From intricate reliefs of gods and goddesses to towering stone sculptures, these sites are not to be missed by anyone seeking to delve deeper into Ayutthaya's rich cultural heritage.
In this blog post, I'll be sharing my top Hindu-inspired picks in Ayutthaya, complete with stories and insights that will transport you to a bygone era. Whether you're an avid traveler or simply a lover of history and culture, I guarantee that these hidden gems will leave you awestruck and hungry for more. So, without further ado, let's begin our journey through Ayutthaya's Hindu-inspired past!
Explore Ayutthaya's Hindu Roots
Thailand is known for its exotic temples and vibrant culture, but did you know that there is a hidden Hindu influence in the heart of Ayutthaya? As one of Thailand's former capitals, Ayutthaya is home to a variety of awe-inspiring temples and historical landmarks.
Despite the Buddhist influence in the region, there were still traces of Hinduism in Ayutthaya's golden age. In the 16th century, Ayutthaya was a bustling center of trade, attracting traders from all over the world. The city's cosmopolitan culture blended together Thai, Indian, Chinese, and European traditions.
The Hindu culture had a significant impact on Ayutthaya's architecture and art. Several temples showcase Hindu-influenced designs and carvings. In this blog article, we will explore some of Ayutthaya's hidden Hindu-inspired gems that you don't want to miss!
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon: A Hindu-Inspired Temple
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon is one of Ayutthaya's most prominent temples with a history dating back to the 14th century. Although the temple site has been through many changes, its current form dates back to 1592 during King Naresuan's reign. While Wat Yai Chai Mongkon is a Buddhist temple, it features intricate designs influenced by Hindu culture.
The temple's chedi (pagoda) is adorned with intricate carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses. The larger-than-life figures of Vishnu and Shiva stand watch over the temple's entrance, while a giant Garuda stands guard in the courtyard.
Inside the temple, you can see more Hindu-inspired art and architecture. The temple's mural paintings depict scenes from the Ramayana, the Hindu epic, and the courtyard is adorned with traditional Indian-style pillars.
The Unique Design of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is one of Ayutthaya's most iconic landmarks with its famous trio of chedis that can be seen from afar. Although it is mainly a Buddhist temple, the unique design of the chedis showcases a blend of Thai and Hindu architecture.
The chedis' bell-shaped design is thought to be reminiscent of ancient Indian stupas, while their spires showcase traditional Thai architectural features. Additionally, the temple's prayer hall features murals that depict Hindu stories and the court culture of the Ayutthaya era.
Admiring the Hindu Gods at Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Built-in 1630, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a stunning temple that was once used as a royal chapel for the king and his noble family. It is known for its tall prang (tower) that features intricate carvings of Hindu gods.
The tower's design represents Mount Meru, a Hindu mythological mountain that is believed to be the center of the universe. The four-sided tower showcases ten levels of carvings that tell the story of Hindu gods and the Ramayana epic.
The temple's courtyard is also adorned with traditional Thai-style pillars and statues of Hindu gods such as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Admiring the beautiful fusion of Hindu and Thai culture in this temple is truly a feast for the eyes.
The Intricate Hindu Carvings of Wat Na Phra Meru
Wat Na Phra Meru is one of Ayutthaya's hidden gems, an ancient temple that is easily missed by tourists. The temple's architecture and carvings showcase a unique blend of Hindu and Khmer influences.
The temple's central shrine features intricate carvings of Hindu gods and deities, such as Ganesha, Kali, and Indra. The temple's entrance arch also features carvings of the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The unique blend of Hindu, Khmer, and Thai influences in this temple is something to behold and should not be missed on your visit to Ayutthaya.
Experiencing Hindu Culture at Ayutthaya Elephant Palace
The Ayutthaya Elephant Palace is a fascinating attraction that showcases the history of elephants in Thailand. But did you know that there is also a Hindu elephant deity that is worshipped in the region?
The Hindu god Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles and is often depicted with the head of an elephant. At the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, you can experience traditional Hindu rituals of offering flowers and incense to the Ganesha statue.
The palace also features elephant rides that take you through historical sites, including several of the temples mentioned in this article. It's an excellent way to experience the history and culture of Ayutthaya from a unique perspective.
Uncovering the Mysteries of Wat Phu Khao Thong
Wat Phu Khao Thong, also known as the Golden Mount, is a temple that has an air of mystery and intrigue. Located on a small hill, the temple features a towering chedi and a fascinating blend of Hindu and Thai architecture.
The temple's chedi is said to enshrine the remains of a former king, and it is believed that the temple's design was influenced by the king's love for Hinduism. The temple's architecture features traditional Thai-style rooftops, with Hindu figures carved into the temple's exterior walls.
The temple's prestige has been used for various purposes over the centuries, including as a fortress during battles, but it remains one of Ayutthaya's most unique and intriguing temples.
Ayutthaya is a treasure trove of historical and cultural significance, and the hidden Hindu-inspired gems in this blog article showcase just how diverse and cosmopolitan Ayutthaya's history truly is. From impressive temples to unique rituals and architecture, Ayutthaya is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the rich cultural and architectural history of Thailand. Don't miss out on discovering the hidden gems of this fascinating region!