WAT YAN SEN (วัดญาณเสน)
Wat Yan Sen is located beside U-Thong Road. It is situated east of the Royal Palace,
and
Khlong Mueang can be found on the opposite side of the road. This area is
sometimes referred to as the Tha Wasukri District. Wat Yan Sen is an active monastery
built on boundaries of an ancient site. The modern facilities can be seen at the U-Thong
Road entrance. The architectural structures from ancient monastery are viewable behind
the modern site.

The modern temple has all the classic traits of the Ratanakosin period, including brightly
colored mirrored tiles on each of its structures. Wat Yan Sen has all the usual buildings
found at an active temple (sermon hall, monk’s quarters, crematorium, bell tower, etc.).
Some of the modern features that stand out are a shrine to the four-headed Erawan and
an interesting deviation of a Chinese-style pagoda. There is also a large, two-tiered, bell
tower featuring bells at each level. Curiously, this modern site also has whimsical statues
of an elephant and other animals hiding behind trees.  

The most remarkable structure in situ at this temple, however, is its ancient chedi. Derick
Garnier once praised Wat Yan Sen’s towering chedi as exhibiting,
"the elegance and
balance for which the architects of that time strove"
(Garnier 45). It is designed in a
similar Late Ayutthaya period architectural style as
Chedi Sri Suriyothai. This chedi is
entered from the east via a large staircase, and it is distinguished by its heavily indented
corners and terraces. There are arched porticos in each of the cardinal directions. Each
portico is crowned with its own niche and chedi. The niches have all been bricked over
except for an entrance on the eastern side. The inner relic chamber is empty, but there is
a hole in the floor leading to a crypt below (now sealed off). The spire has at least 49
rings and its harmika and finial are in good shape.

In addition, there are several small chedi in situ. Two of which remain in relatively good
condition (except for the multiple holes dug into them by looters). There are also traces
of some of the old monastery walls.

There is not much known about Wat Yan Sen’s history. Wat Yan Sen would have been
situated behind the city’s original walls before they were expanded. This monastery
probably had some type of connection to ancient elephant stables. Foreign maps show
that elephants and their mahouts were housed in the area between Wat Yan Sen to
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (Vingboons 1660; de La Loubere 1691; Coronelli 1696).
Excavations revealed that a building on this site contained ropes for harnessing elephants.

Wat Yan Sen was situated along
Khlong Nam Chiao - a canal that brought fast moving
water from Khlong Mueang (the old
Lopburi River) to Bung Phra Ram. The water flow
of this canal was regulated by a gate known as Pratu Tasibiay. A portion of the gate’s
wall can still be seen along U-Thong Road near the front of this monastery. This canal
was aligned with a number of temples:
Wat Chum Saeng, Wat Langkha Khao, Wat
Langkha Dam, Wat Sangkha Pat, and Wat Phong.  

During the 1940s, many artifacts were discovered at this temple, including pottery and a
Buddha image in the Lopburi style. Jane Bunnag produced a map in 1973 that shows
Wat Yan Sen as an active temple, whose monks walked along an alms-route to the Hua
Ro market and back (Bunnag 102-103). Her research shows that Wat Yan Sen
received most of its income from private donations, and that it augmented the
monastery's income by renting part of its land to tenants for 50 Baht per year, which was
considered quite a bargain rate at that time (Bunnag 122).
Text & photographs by Ken May - August 2009
The gable of the ordination hall
The chedi of Wat Yan Sen
The chedi of Wat Yan Sen
Satellite chedi in situ
Addendum

The water flow of Khlong Nam Chiao was not regulated by the gate known as Pratu Tha
Sip Bia (the Gate of the Landing of the Ten Cowries). This gate was a large land gate in
the northern city wall situated near the northeastern corner of the outer wall of Wat
Thammikarat. Following Phraya Boran Rachathanin (PBR) the Nam Chiao canal entered
the city two entries further to the east at an entrance called Chong Maha Thera Mai Sae.
The canal aligned with Wat Chum Saeng, Wat Langkha Khao, Wat Langkha Dam, Wat
Sangkha Pat, and Wat Phong mentioned above was called
Lam Khu Pak Sra. [1] This
author believes that the local people could have called the latter Khlong Nam Chiao, but
this is in contradiction with PBR's writings.

Wat Yan Sen is located in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 33.15" N, 100° 33' 49.96"
E.

References:

[1] Athibai Phaenthi Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya kap khamwinitjai khong Phraya Boran
Rachathanin (2007) - 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 53.
Addendum & maps by Tricky Vandenberg
Updated March 2016
(The chedi of Wat Yan Sen)
(The gable of the ordination hall)
(Satellite chedi in situ)
(The chedi of Wat Yan Sen)
Detail of a 19th century map
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS 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)