|WAT THAMMARAM (วัดธรรมาราม)
|Wat Thammaram prior called Wat Thamma or the Monastery of the Dharma (the
teachings of the Buddha) is located off the city island in the western area of Ayutthaya,
along the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thung Worachet/Prachet field and
north of Wat Kasatrathirat.
In situ are monastic structures of recent time, although underneath are still the foundations
of ancient monastic structures visible. Remains of the old outer wall - the crystal wall -
and the lower part of the old gates still can be seen.
It is related in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya that on this spot during the siege of
Ayutthaya in 1569 Phraya Thamma had set up his stockade to defend the west side of
the City of Ayutthaya against the Burmese; an important strategical position because it lie
across from Sop Sawan Monastery and nearly in front of the Rear Palace.
The King of Hongsawadi, Bhureng Noung, planned to launch a decisive attack to seize
Ayutthaya, although Prince Thammaracha of Phitsanulok feared that an attack on the city
would cost dearly in soldiers. He decided to use a ruse. He summoned Phraya Chakri,
who was one of the hostages sent to Burma with Prince Ramesuen after the second
Burmese invasion in 1563, to attend him alone. After having him swear an oath of
allegiance, the Prince held a secret discussion and proposed Phraya Chakri to gain the
favor of the Burmese King.
Prince Thammaracha informed the King of Hongsawadi of a stratagem and the latter as
part of the plan, had Phraya Chakri sentenced and imprisoned. Thirty Burmese, Mon
and Lao, were set on guard over him. After a few days Prince Thammaracha sent men
to release Phraya Chakri secretly. Phraya Thamma entered at Phraya Thamma’s position
in the middle of the night in all his fetters, pretending that he had escaped from
The next morning the King of Hongsawadi made a pretense of having a search made for
Phraya Chakri throughout the army. As of course he was not found, the King had the
thirty guards taken to be paraded around the army and then immediately executed and
impaled in front of the stockade of Phraya Thamma.
Phraya Thamma escorted Phraya Chakri for an audience with King Mahin of Ayutthaya.
The king, assuming that Phraya Chakri really escaped, placed him in charge of the
defense of the city. Over the weeks Phraya Chakri succeeded in reducing the strength of
the Ayutthayan army, where after he informed the Burmese King to launch his final
attack. Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese for the first time on 30 August 1569, a victim to the
treachery of one of her own sons. 
This temple had in Ayutthayan days a ferry landing crossing the old Lopburi River - at
present the Chao Phraya River (1) - to Chao Phraya Ponlathep's residence on the city
Island. (2)  The ferry landing is mentioned in the epic story Khun Chang, Khun Phaen.
"At Wat Thamma, they stopped and dismounted from the elephant by the
riverbank. Little Khun Chang and his father crossed the river and waited to enter
In the manuscript Testimony of the king from Wat Pradu Songtham, a document
likely compiled in the Early Ratanakosin period, is written that there was a land market at
Thamma ferry. The village in front of Wat Thamma made coffins from teak and ulok
wood along with various crematory articles for sale. 
The site is indicated on a mid-19th century map and on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map
drafted in 1926. On the oldest map we find the presence of a chedi, still in existence.
The monastery is situated in geographical coordinates:
(1) The Chao Phraya River has been deviated into the river bed of the old Lopburi River
in the post-Ayutthayan era anno 1857. See the essay: Ayutthaya's ever-changing
(2) In Ayutthayan times there were twenty-two ferry routes. In the western area, the
three other crossings were: from Wat Chayaram to Ban Chi, from Tha Dan Lom to Wat
Kasatra and from the Rear Palace to Wat Lot Chong.  See "The Boat & Ferry
Landings of Ayutthaya".
The monastery is situated in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 15.29" N, 100° 32'
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 72 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
 Athibai Phaenthi Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya kap khamwinitjai khong Phraya Boran
Racha Thanin - Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of
Phraya Boran Rachathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya
Kingdom - Ton Chabab print office - Nonthaburi (2007) - page 92.
 The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen: Siam's Folk Epic of Love, War and Tragedy
- Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit (2010) - Silkworm Books.
 Phanna phumisathan phranakhon si ayutthaya: ekkasan jak ho luang - Geographical
description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace - Edited by Dr. Winai Pongsripian.
Bangkok: Usakane, n. d. .
 Note on the Testimonies and the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of
the Siam Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 77 (paragraph on KWPS).
 Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011- page 52/56.
|Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2009
Updated May 2011, September 2012, November 2013, October 2015
|(Entry gate and wall around Wat Thammaram)
|(Ordination hall of Wat Thammaram)
|(Bell-shaped chedi in between ubosot and vihara)
|(Old inner wall and excavations)
|(Old inner wall and excavations)
|(Hall of scriptures along the river)
|A monk's mission in the reign of King Borommakot
Wat Thamma was the location where in dhamma-versed monks appointed for a mission to Sri Lanka gathered prior their departure.
In the reign of King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha (r. 1739 - 1747) of the Kandy Nayak dynasty, two missions were sent out to obtain a chapter of Buddhist priests
in order to restore the Sangha (Buddhist monastic order) in the country, which faded away through ignorance of the Buddhist precepts and where monks led
scandalous lives by accumulating wealth, cultivating trade and turning the monk hood into family business.
The first embassy, on board of a Dutch VOC ship, was sent off to Pegu in 1741, but perished off the Pegu coast. Only one survivor - Doranegama Rala -
gained Pegu and returned home. During the second embassy (the Dutch placed a VOC ship at the disposal by way of Batavia), King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha
came to decease. The reconnaissance party reached Ayutthaya, but on return to Batavia and hearing the news of the death of their King (August 1747), the
mission was halted on advice of the Dutch, in order to ascertain the wishes of the new king. On return the majority perished during the voyage.
The young King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha (r.1747 - 1782) succeeded the throne in 1751 AD and made away with all the abuses crept into the Sangha, much
supported by the monk Saranankara and his Minister Ehelapola. He sent an embassy consisting of five ambassadors and sixty-one attendants out to
Ayutthaya to demand ordained priests in order to re-institute the Upasampadawa in Sri Lanka. The Lankan embassy left Trincomalee in August 1750 AD
with a letter for the King of Siam. A storm damaged the ship but it could reach Batavia, where adverse winds compelled the Lankan embassy to remain there
for six months. The embassy reached Ayutthaya the next year (1751 AD) and was received with much pump by King Borommakot (r. 1733-1758). King
Borommakot was well inclined to the request of King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha and readied a Siamese religious embassy to accompany the Sinhalese Embassy
home. Find here under an Account of King Kirti Sri's embassy to Siam in Saka 1672 translated by P. E. Pieris and published in the Journal of the Royal
Asiatic Society Ceylon Branch. Vol. XVIII. The account must have been written either by Ellepola Mohottala or Eittaliyadde Rala, two out of the five
On Monday, the fourth day of the solar month Vrishchika, two officers came and accompanied us in boats to the great vihara called Talarama,
which is built on the bank of the river. Here we worshipped before the golden image of the Buddha and the dagabas, and made offerings of robes
and the priestly necessaries to the priests who had been appointed to proceed to Ceylon. These were Upali Maha Nayaka Thero, Arva Muni Maha
Nayaka Thero, the Anu Mala Thero, the Maha Thero who read the Kanumavacha and who prepare for ordination, and the Maha Theros
Indrajocassa, Chandra Jo assa, Kotthita, Kiyavu, Bojuna, Thuluvan, Thonsuvannana, Janna, Prakyavuthan, Lokon, Da ut, Premak, Premi,
Kruvakya, being twenty-one Theros and eight Samaneras. After this we were taken back to our halting-place.
On the morning of Thursday two officers came and took us to the palace. We halted for a short time at a mandape while our arrival was being
announced, after which we were presented and received with great kindness by his majesty the king, the prince, and the subking; we were
informed that the presents destined for Ceylon would be ready to start in a short time and then were given permission to withdraw, when we
returned again to the same mandape for a short interval. And this was the manner of our departure there from. From the palace gate and as far
as the landing-place at the river bank the two sides of the street were decorated with cloths embroidered with gold, various scented flowers and
fruits, and examples of the painter's skill. Next, heralded by the five kinds of music, came the royal message carried in a gold litter on either side
of which were held gold-worked sesat and flags. A new golden image of Buddha came next; borne in like fashion and accompanied by sesat,
chamaras, gold-worked flags, and music.
The sacred books and various offerings followed, guarded on either aide by a band of warriors armed with the five kinds of weapons. Upali Maha
Thero came next, carried in a palanquin curiously worked with gold, and followed by many offerings ; next was Arya Muni Maha Thero in similar
state. These two were accompanied by the other Theros and Samaneras destined for Lanka, all of whom had been presented with various gifts; a
band of warriors followed them preceding the presents that were to be sent to Lanka which were conveyed in gilt chests. Three officers bad been
appointed to proceed to Lanka as ambassadors, and numerous honours had been conferred on them. Two of them came next in two litters shaped
like beds and richly adorned with ornaments of solid gold. These were carried on the shoulders of men, while the third rode behind on a richly
caparisoned horse. We who had been gazing at this rare sight with delight, were now directed to enter the horse carriages in which we joined the
procession. The gorgeous decorations on either side of the road, the viharas and crowds of priests, the masses of men, women, and children gay in
jewels and gold, who thronged to gaze at us, cannot be described in words. We proceeded thus as far as the river, lost in admiration at the
splendour of the crowded street. Here we found awaiting us the royal barges, decked with the heads of lions, bears, elephants, kinduras, makaras,
crocodiles, serpents buffaloes, deer, peacocks, parrots, pigeons, dragons, and rakshas; whilst in the intervals were carved trees, creepers, and
plants, all gilt. On their decks were constructed booths of gold-worked cloths gaily adorned, and similar curtains were hung around, while various,
flags and umbrellas were fixed at stem and stern. On board these barges were conveyed the image and books and royal message as well as the
The king, the royal queens, the sub king, the princes, as well as the nobles with their wives, accompanied us in similar boats; after them came a
host of devotees of either sex and of citizens in boats in an unbroken stream, the boats being secured in rows by cables so as to move in line. In
various boats dancing and singing were going on, while numerous drums kept up a continuous volume of sound. Thus we proceeded down the
river till we reached the large new ship, which with its gilding within and without appeared like some ship of the gods. This was the vessel destined
by his majesty for the use of the priests who were sailing for Lanka. So on Thursday, the first day of the increasing moon of the month II, about
ten hours after dawn, the sub-king bore the golden image reverently on his own bead within the ship, and placed it on a throne surrounded by gold
embroidered hangings of various colours; the holy books and the king's message were similarly disposed of, and the presents and offerings were
stowed away. The priests were then taken on board amidst cries of "Sadhu" and the firing of guns and the accompaniment of music, and were
followed by the three Siamese ambassadors who were proceeding to Lanka accompanied by many presents. A message was also conveyed to us
from the king, giving us permission to depart and also directing that Wilbagedara Muhandiram Rala alone, who was well known to the Thero and
ambassadors - he had been to Siam on a previous occasion - should travel in the Siamese ship. The rest of us were also requested to go on board
the ship, but as the number of the Siamese attendants and the quantity of their baggage was great, we were to continue our journey by the
Hollander's ship. Three Siamese nobles were also ordered to accompany us as far as the seaport of Siam.
King Borommakot had sent a royal letter, the sacred Buddhist texts, a golden Buddha image and various presents in gilt chests. According to Dr. Waldemar
C. Sailer one of these presents was a Buddha footprint made of silver of which the chakka was in gold.  This Buddha footprint is apparently still kept at a
vihara of the 'Temple of the Tooth' in Kandy, Sri Lanka. King Borommakot's presents were shipped in gilt chests. One of these chests, decorated with
Chinese prints (likely in mother-of-pearl) is kept at the National Library in Colombo.
The Sinhalese embassy returned with the Siamese embassy on two ships; a ship from Ayutthaya and a Dutch VOC vessel. All presents were loaded on the
Siamese ship, which was attended by one of the Lankan ambassadors Wilbagedara Muhandiram Rala and some servants. Wilbagedara is said to have been
prior to Siam, so must have been a survivor of the second mission sent by King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha. The two vessels left the 'Harbour of Siam' (likely the
custom house) after a stop at Bangkok and the 'Pakhuis Amsterdam' begin December 1751, the Siamese ship taking the lead. The next day the Siamese ship
disappeared out of sight. The Dutch ship arrived in Malacca and waited news from the Siamese ship. Finally in May the next year, news arrived that the
Siamese ship had lost its mast and was towed back to Ayutthaya. (3)
A letter was sent to Ayutthaya and in December an answer arrived from ambassador Wilbagedara that they could proceed to Lanka as the Siamese monks
and ambassadors would start again from Mergui (Mirigija) and arrive the next year. The Lankan delegation left Malacca and arrived in Colombo
mid-January 1753. The Dutch offered the VOC ship 'Cecilia' at the service of the Siamese delegation to bring them to Batavia, where they were transferred
to a larger vessel, the 'Oscabel'. The Siamese delegation arrived in Trincomalee in May of the same year. 
Within three years Upali Maha Thero and his chapter ordained seven hundred priests, several thousand youths of good family had entered the temples as
novices, and a Sangha Racha appointed to take charge of the religious establishment in Lanka. Finally, after re-establishing the Upasampada (higher
ordination) and creating the Siam Nikaya order, the Siamese monks returned home and the ambassadors received a model of the Tooth Relic as a present
for King Borommakot. A new chapter of Siamese monks set out for Sri Lanka in October 1755 and brought with them numerous religious books and rich
offerings for the Sacred Tooth. 
(3) Apparently the Siamese ship got leak and ran on a bank near Nakhon Sri Thammarat. The Siamese ambassadors wrote a letter to King Borommakot,
explaining the situation and the king ordered the ship repaired and taken back to Ayutthaya.
 Mail of Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer - September 2012.
 Religious Intercourse Between Ceylon and Siam in the Eighteenth Century - P.E. Pieris (1908) - Bangkok Siam Observer Office - pages 37-40.
 Ceylon and the Hollanders (1658 - 1796) - P. E. Pieris (1918) - American Ceylon Mission Press, Tellippalai - page 71.\
|Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2012
|(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
|(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)