WAT PHLABPHLA CHAI (วัดพลับพลาไชย)
This restored ruin is located on the corner of Chikun Road and Pa Maphrao Road. It
is roughly situated between
Wat Racha Burana and Wat Suwannawat. The area is
referred to as the Pratu Chai district.

There are three primary structures remaining at Wat Phlabphla Chai. At its entrance was
a sermon hall. Three walls have survived, and some fragments of Buddha images can be
seen on its altar. The sermon hall’s basic foundation has been reconstructed by the Fine
Arts Department. Behind the sermon hall is a large bell-shaped chedi. Its spire and
harmika have been rebuilt, but a large hole has been dug into the relic chamber by
looters. A third chedi is located beside this one. The third chedi was constructed in the
style of the Late Ayutthaya period. It is pyramidal and has multiple layers with indented
corners. This rises in a prang-like structure, but its upper portion is gone. There is
evidence that it once has niches at the relic chamber. In addition, the boundary walls of
this restored ruin are clear at the ground level. There is also a small sub-structure south
of the sermon hall that has small room-like cells made from brick and mortar. This could
have been used as monk quarters. Another sub-structure exists on the northern side of
the monastery, but the only thing remaining is a reconstructed floor.  

This monastery was built in an east/west axis facing
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (now
buried underground). It would have been situated within the old city walls. Foreign maps
show the area directly west of it as a location for elephant stables (
Vingboons 1665,
Coronelli 1696, de La Loubere 1691).

There is not much known about this monastery’s history or date of establishment. A
hand-painted sign in situ suggests in was used as a military base in 1424 by Prince Ai
Phraya before fighting a duel with his brother on elephant back. According to Royal
Chronicles, after
King Intharacha died in 1424, two sons fought for the throne in an area
at the foot of
Than Forest Bridge. Prince Ai Phraya set himself up at the Municipality of
Maphrao (coconut) Forest at the Chai Pavilion, while his brother Prince Yi Phraya set
himself up at the
Chaiyaphum Monastery so as to enter the city by way of Chao Phrom
Market (Cushman 15). Both brothers had their throats torn open at the same time by
war scythes and neither of them survived. A third brother inherited the throne instead.

It is believed by some scholars that Wat Phlabphla Chai is the Chai Pavillion mentioned
in the Royal Chronicles, and coconut groves can still be seen near the monastery even
today. This information suggests that the monastery was established in the Early
Ayutthaya period. However, none of its structures resemble the architectural style of the
Early Ayutthaya Period. The closest Khmer-style prangs from this period are found at
Wat Chaiyaphum and at
Wat Langka. Based on architecture style, it is reasonable to
argue that Prince Ai Phraya might have actually set up in the vicinity of Wat Langka
instead.
Text & photographs by Ken May - September 2009
Maps by Tricky Vandenberg - March 2015
One of the chedi at Wat Phlapphla Chai
View of Wat Phlabphla Chai
View of Wat Phlabphla Chai
(View of Wat Phlabphla Chai)
(View of Wat Phlabphla Chai)
(One of the chedi at Wat Phlapphla Chai)
Detail of a 19th century map
(Detail of a 19th century map - Courtesy of the Sam
Chao Phraya Museum - map is orientated S-N)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno
1926)
(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)