WAT MAHEYONG (วัดมเหยงคณ์)
Wat Maheyong is located outside the city island in Hantra sub-district of Ayutthaya,
which is part of the ancient area of Ayodhya, inhabited before the establishment of  
Ayutthaya in 1351. This ancient Ayodhya community was situated on the stretch of land
formed by
Khlong Hantra, Khlong Ban Bat / Kramang and the Pa Sak River.

Following the Luang Prasoet chronicles the monastery was built in 1438 A.D. at the start
of the reign of King Borommaracha II (r. 1424-1448) of the Suphannaphum Dynasty
(also called Chao Sam Phraya or King Thai Sa). Later Royal chronicles of Ayutthaya
(written after the fall of Ayutthaya) changes that  date and put the temple's construction in
1424 A.D., a year generally accepted as being King Borommaracha's throne
ascendancy.

The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention that Chao Phraya Maha Sena had his
stockade set up in the Hantra plains during the war with Burma in 1563-1564. His  
stockade was attacked by the Burmese troops of the Maha Uparat, but he was able to
withstand the first attack. The second attack although, he had to give  terrain and was
driven with his men into the Hantra Canal (where many wounded drowned) and crossed
over to the Maheyong Monastery.

"The King of Hongsawadi commanded that the Maha Uparacha be ordered to [E:
approach and] take the stockades on the Hantra Plain so that [BF: plans could be
made for approaching Ayutthaya] [CDE: the registration system of Ayutthaya
could be studied]. At dawn on the next day, Tuesday, the third day of the waning
moon in the fourth month, the Maha Uparacha took his soldiers to attack the
stockade of Caophraya Maha Sena. Caophraya Maha Sena and his officers fought
capably and the enemy was unable to take it by storm. The Maha Uparacha was
displeased. [BDEF: Turning] [C: Halting] his elephant [BDEF: to stand] directly
in front of, and about three sen from, the stockade, he had it announced to his
officers that, "If you do not take the stockade at this time, I will cut off your heads
and have them impaled." The officers were afraid and, driving the massed soldiers
carrying swords and shields in to reinforce the attack, they were able to take the
stockade by storm. Caophraya Maha Sena, his officers and his men fled into the
canal and crossed over to the
Maheyong Monastery side. Those of the wounded
who drowned in the water were numerous. The Maha Uparacha returned with the
army to his stockade. Then he went to an audience with the King of Hongsawadi
and made his report on all the particulars involved in the conquest of the
stockade."
[1]

During the Burmese war in 1568-1569, the main army of King Bayinnaung encamped at
the Maheyong Monastery. He set up his pavilion at the temple and it was  here that King
Mahin of Ayutthaya (King Mahinthrathirat) (r. 1568-1569) presented himself to the
Burmese King after the fall of the capital on 30 August  1569. King Mahin and the royal
family were taken captive to Pegu. Maha Thammaracha of Phitsanulok, who joined
forces with Bayinnaung against Ayutthaya, was  set up as King. King Mahin died of
fever on the way to Burma.

"As soon as his army and naval forces were all assembled, the King of
Hongsawadi issued orders for all his forces to lay siege to the Capital: The army of
the Uparat and the army of Prince Thammaracha to the front ramparts in the
east, the army of the King of Ava to [F: encamp to] the south, the armies of the
Phraya of Thala, of the Thai Yai princes and of the Chiang Mai phraya, sæn and
luang to [F: encamp to] the west, and the armies of the Phraya of Bassein, of the
Phraya of Tòngu, of Phraya Aphaikhamani, of the Phraya of Lao, [F: the ruler of
Martaban,] Phraya Phataba and [D: Phraya] Phataboet to encamp to the north.
The main army itself moved [BDF: in] to encamp at Maheyong Monastery."
[2]

"At that moment the Uparat and Prince Thammaracha proceeded in and halted
their royal elephants in front of the Royal Palace. So King Mahin, Lord of the
Realm, [B: seeing that Ayutthaya had fallen to the King of Hongsawadi,]
proceeded forth with his royal palanquin to Prince Thammaracha [B: in front of
the Royal Palace]. So the Uparat [B: and Prince Thammaracha escorted]
[CDEF: had] King Mahin, Lord of the Realm, [CDEF: escorted] out to be
presented to the King of Hongsawadi at his pavilion at Maheyong Monastery."
[3]

Wat Maheyong underwent major restoration in the reign of King Thai Sa (r.1709-1732).
The restoration started in 1709 and it took more than three years to complete it. The
King had a royal residence built, south of the temple in  order to follow its restoration,
and administered royal affairs from that place. After the temple's restoration in 1713, it
was dedicated and celebrated with  a week-long festival. Wat Maheyong, restored and
enlarged, became one of the most significant monasteries before the fall of Ayutthaya.

Wat Maheyong consists basically of a large, eastern-orientated ubosot or ordination hall,
a main chedi, a number of satellite chedi and an enclosure. The  large ordination hall is a
rectangle-shaped building, 17 m wide and 35 m long. There is a passageway at the east
gate, leading to its entry. The ordination  hall is surrounded by an inner boundary wall, 38
m wide and 72 m long, topped with small chedis at each of the corners. The ubosot
covers half the ground  enclosed by the inner boundary wall. There are three doors and
an extended portico in the main front and the wall behind the Buddha pedestal is broken
up by  two doors and an extended portico at the back. The central entrance doorway is
larger than the others. Two rows of columns are employed to support the roof  and
divide off two aisles. The walls are very thick, with deep door and window embrasures.
Walls and columns taper towards the top, a characteristic feature  of Thai architecture.
There are in total six windows, three on each side. Inside are two large pedestals and
fragmented sandstone Buddha images. As custom in  earlier times, Buddha images were
first made from sandstone, coated with stucco, lacquered and finished with gold leaf (see
as an example, the multiple  Buddha images at
Wat Chai Watthanaram). The hall was
renovated in the Late Ayutthaya period as can be seen at the foundations which slightly
curve in the  middle of its length (junk-style), typical for that period. The ubosot is
marked off by double sema boundary stones (leaf-shaped flat thick stone plates,  usually
made of slate, demarcating the sacred area at the eight cardinal points), an indication for
Royal temples, although likely belonging to the  Ratanakosin period.

On the west side of the ordination hall stands the principal chedi. The original chedi
broke down, and part of its many-tiered umbrella roof (chattra) or  spire can still be seen
on the ground. The bell-shaped reliquary tower rests on a square base with sides of 32
m. The base is decorated with eighty elephant  (Buddha Siddharta Gautama entered the
parinirvana at the age of eighty) figures about one meter high; twenty on each side, ten
left and right of every  staircase. The elephants' trunks have now mostly disappeared,
and their bodies have been heavily restored. Its convex, dome-shaped bell, the square
harmika  atop the dome and the form of the chattra (the honorific umbrella) above the
harmika are all evidence of the Sinhalese style. The design is reminiscent of Chedi Chang
Lom in Sukhothai, which has similar elephant decorations, reflecting the Sinhalese
tradition of Buddhist architecture.

At the inter cardinal  directions around the principal chedi are four bell-shaped
subordinate chedis. Between the corridor and the north and south outer walls are an
octagonal and  bell-shaped chedi as well as a vihara. The quadrangular outer wall
measures 95 meter on 214 metres and has four large, roofed gate entrances in Late  
Ayutthaya style. To the west, outside the enclosure, are three other Singalese-styled
chedis. To the south stands
Tamnak Maheyong or the Royal Residence of  Maheyong
built by King Tai Sa (Phumintharacha) in order to follow the renovation of Wat
Maheyong from close by.

The denomination of Wat Maheyong is a Siamese derivative of
Mahiyanga. [4]
Mahiyanga(naya) was an ancient site in present Uva Province of Sri Lanka, situated 42
Km east of Kandy on the banks of the Mahaweli Ganga river. It was in Mahiyanga that
the Buddha Siddhartha Gauthama hovered in the air on his first visit to Lanka in the ninth
month after his Enlightenment, in order to frighten the Yakshas. Maha Sumana built there
a shrine seven cubits in diameter, all of sapphire, and containing the hair given to him by
the Buddha. After the Buddha's death, Sarabhu, a disciple of Sariputta, brought there the
collar bone of the Buddha, which he deposited in the stupa, increasing the height of the
stupa to twelve cubits. The stupa, following the legend the first stupa of lanka, was raised
many times thereafter. The stupa is still in existence. [5]

The restored ruin of Wat Maheyong is located in Geo Coord: 14° 21' 49.44" N, 100°
35' 41.99" E.

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 36 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - Prince Maha Thammaracha of Phitsanulok.
[2] Ibid - page 61.
[3] Ibid - page 73-4.
[4] The Kingdom of Siam - A. Cecil Carter (1904) - Page 219.
[5] http://www.vipassana.info/ma/mahiyangana.htm - data retrieved 14 February 2012.

Consulted works

1. Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - pages 104,
105.
2. Ayutthaya, a world heritage (2000) - pages 108, 109.
3. http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/seasia/ayutthaya
"In 800 [Chulasakarat], a year of the horse, when King Boromracha II had built
the Maheyong Monastery he ascended the royal throne."
Eastern walkway towards the monastery
Ordination hall viewed from the west
Ordination hall - view from the inside
Principal Chedi
Elephant statues surrounding the chedi
Satellite vihara in situ
Access portal to the monastery
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - February 2009
Updated February 2012, January 2015
(Eastern walkway towards the monastery)
(Ordination hall viewed from the west)
(Ordination hall - view from the inside)
(Principal Chedi)
(Elephant statues surrounding the chedi)
(Satellite vihara in situ)
(Access portal to the monastery)
Wat Maheyong 2002 & 2008
Photographs by Tricky Vandenberg
Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map
(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)