WAT THAMMIKARAT (วัดธรรมิกราช)
Wat Thammikarat is located on the city island beside U-Thong Road. It is situated just
outside of the
Ayutthaya Historic Park. It can be easily accessed by motor vehicle from
U-Thong Road or by bike from a small path at its southern end (via King Naresuan
Road). The monks at this active monastery humbly request that visitors walk their bikes
while on temple property.

Wat Thammikarat has been restored a number of times. Many of the architectural
structures remain as ruins, but new buildings have been recently constructed since the
temple is now active with Buddhist monks. In situ is a large bell-shaped chedi with an
octagonal base. This chedi is encircled by a large number of lion figures (singh). These
are made of bricks and mortar, and the outer parts are decorated with elaborate detail in
stucco. A similar architecture structure with lion figures can be seen at
Wat Mae Nang
Plum; however, the chedi at Wat Thammikarat also features some multi-headed Naga.
There are traces of smaller monuments and fallen spires around this central chedi

Other structures at this east/west aligned temple include a massive sermon hall, the size
of which is 19 x 53 meters. There are large columns inside this vihan that are still intact.
A large portico exists on the eastern side. This includes the staircase and entrances.

There are a few pieces of Buddha images inside of this vihan, but not much. Wat
Thammikarat also has a small vihara that houses a reclining Buddha. This image is
covered with gold leaf and its toes are all of equal size. There are traces of old walls
visible around Wat Thammikarat. More recent constructions include a Bangkok-period
ordination hall, some shrines, and funeral monuments in the monastery’s northwestern
corner. There is also a replica of a giant bronze head that was found at this temple dating
back to the U-Thong period. The original is now located at
Chao Sam Phraya Museum
in Ayutthaya.  

Various foreign maps show that elephants and their mahouts were housed in the area
from Wat Thammikarat to
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (Vingboons 1660; de La Loubere
1691; Coronelli 1696). This would have been the old boundaries of the city before its
walls were expanded. There have been some reports that old ropes used to harness
elephants were found at this monastery.

Wat Thammikarat most likely pre-dates the founding of Ayutthaya by King U-Thong in
1351. It is historically connected to a Khmer settlement named Ayodaya that was
situated just east of the current city island. Derick Garnier points out that,
"Archaeologists have found traces of a pre-12th century Dvaravati town on and
below the island of
Wat Khun Muang Chai, Wat Maha That, and Tambon Bang
Kracha"
(Garnier 39-40). Evidence suggests Wat Thammikarat also existed at this
early time. The
"stone lions round the chedi are Khmer, and the colossal Reclining
Buddha, of which only the head remains, is in the style of Uthong"
(Garnier 40).
This pre-Ayutthaya history is backed up by northern Thai chronicles, which state that
Phraya Thammikarat, who was son of King Sai Nam Phung, constructed this monastery,
and this is how it received its name (Kasetsiri & Wright 96).

Royal Chronicles mention this site in reference to a battle to claim the throne. Prince Si
Sin, the younger brother of 11-year-old
King Yot Fa (who was executed in 1548), was
imprisoned at or near Wat Thammikarat by King Chakkraphat. The same King tried
placing him earlier into
Wat Racha Praditsathan to serve as a novice monk, but as Prince
Si Sin got older he felt he had a right to wear the crown, so he gathered his supporters
together and staged a rebellion. A revered monk provided Prince Si Sin with an
auspicious date to attack the Royal Palace. Prince Si Sin attacked the temple at the Sao
Thong Chai Gate, which is located next to Wat Thammikkarat. This surprise attack
forced the king to flee the palace. However, Prince Si Sin was eventually killed in battle
by gunfire. As a warning against future rebellions, the prince’s colleagues and some of
their wives were executed and impaled next to the body of Prince Si Sin (Cushman 41-
42).

After King Borommakot died in 1758, his sons started fighting for the throne. Five
patriarchs from various powerful monasteries tried to prevent a civil war from forming.
One of these peaceful and influential monks was Phra Thamma Khodom of Wat
Thammikarat (Kasetsiri & Wright 97).

Evidence from this ancient ruin suggests that it was restored during the Late Ayutthaya
period. Documents also indicate that is was badly damaged by fire during the second fall
of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767 (TAT 106). The Burmese may have been melting
down part of the temple for precious metals. Evidence suggests that they did this same
activity at
Wat Phra Si Sanphet and other monasteries after conquering the city.

In 2000, a large swamp covered the southern part of the temple property. This has since
been drained, and the temple is now wonderfully landscaped with many flowers and
trees.
Text & photographs by Ken May - August 2009
Main stupa surrounded by lions
Naga stairs
Inside view of the main vihara
Reclining Buddha in situ
Bronze Buddha head excavated at the temple's location and exhibited at the Chao Sam Phraya museum
(Bronze Buddha head excavated at the
temple's location and exhibited at the
Chao Sam Phraya museum)
Addendum

Wat Thammikarat was initially called Wat Mukharat. The monastery was built by
Thammikarat, a son of King Sai Nam Phung. The style of the temple is from the Early
Ayutthaya period. [1]

The stupa stands on a octagonal base and is surrounded with
50 lions in Bayon
(Khmer) style
on a larger square base. The idea of surrounding the base with lions is
influenced by the Sukhothai and Bayon styles. [2]

References:

[1] Master Plan for Tourism Development of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the
Neighbouring Provinces - Tourism Authority of Thailand - 6 August 1988 -  page 4-78.
[2] Navarat Poomkrachang: The analysis of main stupa pattern and surround singh base
of Wat Dhammikaraj, Ayutthaya province. Master’s report advisor: asso. Prof. Ph. D.
Sakchai Saisingha. 66 pp. ISBN 974-11-6497-1.
Addendum & picture slide by Tricky Vandenberg - January 2013
Updated October 2015
(Inside view of the main vihara)
(Main stupa surrounded by lions)
(Naga stairs)
(Reclining Buddha in situ)
Detail of a 19th century map
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
(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)
Source: Phra Rachawang Lae Wat Boran Nai Changwat Phra Nakhon Ayutthaya (2511 BE)