|WAT KUDI DAO (วัดกุฏีดาว)
|Wat Kudi Dao or the Monastery of the Star Dormitory is located off the city island in
the northeastern sector of the city. It is most easy to find it by turning north at Wat Sam
Plum (the chedi that serves as a roundabout in the middle of Rochana Road). Wat Kudi
Dao is centrally located within a highly-concentrated cluster of temples.
Wat Kudi Dao is an enormous restored ruin that was aligned to the east/west axis. It
was designed to face a canal passing north to south in front of it. This canal is alternately
referred to as Khlong Kudi Dao or Khlong Ayodaya on various city maps. The mouth of
this canal starts at Khlong Hantra (the old Pa Sak River) and could be used for transport
all the way to Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon (though its lower portion is now named Khlong
Dusit). A second canal known as Khlong Pradu was situated on the northern side of
Wat Kudi Dao. It ran east to west from the new Pa Sak River toward Wat Maheyong.
Thus, Wat Kudi Dao was strategically situated on a vital corner of an important canal
intersection. A moat was also dug around it; traces of which are still visible today.
There are many structures and chedi still in situ. Behind the monastery’s main entrance
gate, which is still located on site, is a large sermon hall. The walls of the sermon hall are
mostly intact. The insides of the sermon hall is distinguished by its tall colonnade. The
pillars are in good shape and lotus flowers decorate the capital. There is a hole dug in
front of the altar, which is where a luk nimit ball would have been placed. Traces of a
portico can be seen at the front and back of the sermon hall. In addition, the sermon hall
has false windows. These were once primed with black lacquer and covered with gold
leaf (TAT 135).
Behind the sermon hall is the principal chedi. This large bell-shaped chedi is constructed
in the Sri Lankan style. It is round with multiple rings as layers (some with redented
corners), and it sits on a square platform. This platform had a terrace that enabled
worshipers to walk around it counterclockwise three times. There were also corner
chedi and balustrades around the terrace. The large spire has collapsed, but it can still be
seen on the ground below. A second sermon hall, possibly used for ordinations, is
located behind the chedi. This has a high wall that looks as if it may fall over; however
the rest of this structure has benefited from renovations by the Fine Arts Department. In
addition, there are several small chedi in situ.
Monastery walls clearly mark the boundaries even today. The rectangular enclosure wall
measures 63 meters in width and 256 meters in length (Kasetsiri & Wright 109). North
of this site, just outside its walls, is a two story building with arched windows that reflect
a distinct Muslim influence. This building was used as residential quarters while making
renovations at the monastery - see note below. A large Bodhi tree has started to climb
over the northeastern corner of the building.
Wat Kudi Dao is located in area known as Ayodaya. It is widely believed that an ancient
Dvaravati settlement existed in this area prior to King U-Thong’s arrival in 1351. Phraya
Boran Ratchathanin, who governed Ayutthaya at the time, suggested in 1907 that an
ancient kingdom existed in the vicinity. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab - the father of
modern Thai education - echoed this sentiment seven years later. In 1967, Srisak
Vallibhotama came to the same conclusion based on his geographical survey (Kasetsiri
Recent excavations suggest that Wat Kudi Dao was built on the foundation of earlier
buildings that predated the foundations of Ayutthaya (TAT 134). However, Royal
Chronicles fail to mention it until King Thai Sa’s reign (1709-1733). The first report
about this monastery is that the younger brother of King Thai Sa went out to be ordained
as a monk at the Monastery of the Star Dormitory (Cushman 397). A high ranking monk
named Phra Thep Muni lived at the temple, so the young Prince was greatly influenced
by his teachings.
While King Thai Sa was making important renovations at Wat Maheyong, his younger
brother contributed to restorations at Wat Kudi Dao. These two monasteries are
situated in close proximity to each other and connected by canal. The younger brother
constructed a place to reside in while making restorations to this temple. This two-story
building with arched windows is named Tamnak Kammalian. There is one similar to it at
Wat Maheyong called Tamnak Tha Bua. Both Kings continued to develop the Ayodaya
area by making repairs at other monasteries as well.
The restorations at Wat Kudi Dao began in 1711 and were completed in 1715
(Kasetsiri & Wright 108-109). Royal Chronicles report that, when the renovations at
Wat Kudi Dao were finished, a seven-day festival was held to celebrate its completion.
Holy acts of merit were performed by giving alms and making offerings of worship
(Cushman 405-407). This younger brother would later be crowned in 1733 as King
When King Borommakot died in 1758, a bloody conflict ignited over who should inherit
the throne next. This threatened to divide the kingdom, so five highly esteemed monks
visited the Residence of the Rabbit Garden inside the Royal Palace in order to negotiate
for a peaceful settlement. One of these monks was Reverend Thep Muni of the
Monastery of the Star Dormitory (Cushman 464). The conflict was resolved when King
Uthumphon entered the monkhood at Wat Pradu Songtham - also located near the
temple cluster around Khlong Ayodaya. He had only reigned for ten days. His elder
brother was then crowned King Suriyamarin (Ekathat).
Shortly before the fall of Ayutthaya, the highly revered monk Phra Thep Muni became ill
and died. He has since been promoted by King Suriyamarin to the position of Supreme
Holy Cleric Royal, and had moved from Wat Kudi Dao to Wat Na Phra Men. The King
had the monk’s corpse prepared and placed in a Holy funeral urn. However, due to the
severity of the Burmese invasion, Phra Thep Muni’s body could not be cremated
(Cushman 509). The city of Ayutthaya fell to Burmese shortly afterward in 1767.
|Text & photographs by Ken May - September 2009
Maps & photo slide by Tricky Vandenberg
Updated April 2016
|(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)
|Source: Phra Rachawang Lae Wat Boran Nai Changwat Phra Nakhon Ayutthaya (2511 BE)
|(Monastic structure in situ)
|(Arched window of Tamnak Kammalian)
|(The main chedi of Wat Kudi Dao)