WAT CHATTHAN





Wat Chatthan was situated on Ayutthaya’s city island in the Pratu Chai Sub-district. The monastery was located on the west bank of Khlong Pratu Jin (1), near the Bhraman shrines and the Chikun Bridge.
The temple's name is derived from Chatthan, or Chaddanta, a king of elephants. He, according to Siamese legends, lives in a golden palace on the shores of the Himalayan Lake Chatthan (one of the seven lakes of Himaphan or the Himalaya), attended by eighty thousand ordinary elephants. Burnouf applied the term Erawan or Airavana to a one-headed elephant and considered the three-headed elephant to be Chatthan, which he identified as Chaddanta, the elephant of six defences or tusks. Erawan, the three-headed elephant of Indra, is often represented on the ornaments of Thai temples. [1]
The temple is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya when King Narai (reign 1656-1688 CE) seizes the Siamese throne from his uncle, King Suthammaracha, in 1656 CE.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Holy Si Sutham Rachathirat, learning that His Majesty the Supreme-Paramount- Reverence-and-Holy-Existing-Lord was moving His troops on in from the Holy Royal Palace of the Excellent and Auspicious Site, gave orders to Phra Maha Thep and Luang Inthara Decha to take Khun Bamroe Phak and Mister Man, who was a slave of Khun Bamroe Phak, and do away with them in front of Seal Water Village. Now, Khun Bamroe Phak having escaped safely and then having gone to prostrate himself to render homage to the Supreme-Paramount-Reverence-and-Holy-Existing-Lord in front of the Monastery of Chatthan, they took only Mister Man, the slave of that Khun Bamroe Phak, and did away with him. [2]
Another time, Wat Chatthan is mentioned when in December 1765 CE (January 1766 CE), a heavy fire broke out on a late Friday night at Tha Sai (Sand Landing) and spread south along Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak via the Elephant Bridge (Saphan Chang) towards Wat Racha Burana and Wat Maha That to stop at Wat Chatthan finally. The Royal Chronicles mentioned that over ten thousand monastic structures and houses were destroyed.
When Saturday arrived, the fourth day of the waxing moon in the first month of the year of the dog, eighth of the decade, in the year 1128 of the Royal Era, late in the middle of the night, a fire broke out inside the Holy Metropolis. It started burning at Sand Landing, caught and spread on in to the Bridge of the Elephants and the Canal of Unhusked Rice, and then came in and ignited the Coconut Forest, the Thon Forest, the Charcoal Forest, the Flame Tree Forest, the Medicine Forest, the Monastery of the Royal Repairs and the Monastery of the Holy Glorious Grand Reliquary. The fire continued and only stopped at the Monastery of Chatthan. The dormitories, preaching halls, houses and homes which the fire ignited and burned on that occasion totaled over ten thousand buildings. [3]
Its historical background and period of construction are unknown. The site has never been excavated.
Wat Chatthan on the maps
It is a challenging exercise to determine if Wat Chatthan was situated north or south of Pa Thon Road and the canal running parallel south of the road.
Wat Chatthan is one of the temples mentioned on Kaempfer’s sketch north or south of Pa Thon Road and west of Khlong Pratu Jin. Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716 CE) was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE.
Jacques Nicolas Bellin indicates, similar to Kaempfer, two pagodas on the west bank of the Pratu Jin Canal north and south of Pa Thon Road. The pagoda on the north side seems to contain a pond, which is more an indication of the Brahmin Shrines. Bellin’s map ‘Plan De La Ville De Siam’. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE) was one of the most important cartographers of the 18th century. He was a hydrographer and 'ingénieur hydrographe' at the French 'Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine'. The map ‘Plan De La Ville De Siam’ of the French cartographer Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE), based on a Jesuit survey in 1687 CE and published as plate No. 4 in volume 9 of the 1752 CE French edition of Abbé Antoine François Prévost's l'Histoire Générale des Voyages.
On a 19th century map drafted by an unknown surveyor, Wat Chatthan is situated north of Pa Thon Road, on the same axis with Wat Song Khon. On the opposite side of the road stood Wat Noi Nang Muk (Wat Mae Nang Muk).
On Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map of 1926 CE, Wat Chatthan is drafted south of Pa Thon Road, on the northeast corner of the Ayutthaya Witthayalai School. Wat Chatthan is positioned between Pa Thon Road and the canal linking Khlong Chakrai Noi with Khlong Tha Jin. Wat Mae Nang Plum stands south of Wat Chatthan and the canal. Thewa Sathan or the Brahmin shrines are north of Wat Chatthan and Pa Thon Road.
There are thus discrepancies between the 19th-century map and Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map regarding the position of Wat Chatthan (on the maps of Kaempfer and Bellin, the temple is not named). Wat Noi Nang Muk on the 19th-century map is situated at the southwest corner created by Khlong Pratu Jin and Pa Thon Road (Chikun Bridge) in the location where Phraya Boran positions Wat Chatthan on his map.
On the 1957 and 1974 Fine Arts Department maps, we find Wat Chatthan in a position north of Pa Thon Road, opposite the old Police station, identical to its position on the 19th-century map. [4]

On the 1993 Fine Arts Department map, we find the position of Wat Chatthan rectified. The temple is situated now in the same position as PBR indicates the temple (on the northeast corner of the Ayutthaya Witthayalai School).

Wat Chatthan is not indicated on the 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map, which lets us presume that the site was never excavated. Bueng Phra Ram has mainly been altered since the 19th century and especially its south-eastern corner where a large fountain has been constructed. The area has been completely reshaped, and it will be today very hard to nearly impossible for archaeologists to determine the exact location of Wat Chatthan.

In the old documents it is written that a brick bridge called Wat Chatthan Bridge led from the road in front of Wat Am Mae at the end of Great Khaek Village Jaosen onto the main road at the front of Wat Chatthan. [5]

Personal note:

The road in front of Wat Am Mae was the Great Khaek Village Road ending at Chikun Road (via the Wanon Bridge and Net Village Road).

The Wat Chatthan Bridge led from Great Khaek Village Road onto the main road at the front of Wat Chatthan, as said in the old document.

The bridge is thus linking two parallel running roads. The main road at the front of Wat Chatthan must therefore be the Pa Thon Road.

As the bridge was there to cross a waterway, the latter must be south of the Pa Thon Road. As it was a brick bridge and important enough to be mentioned in the old texts, the canal must have been relatively wide. As the bridge is named after the temple, it must have stood in its vicinity.

Additional, in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, there is mentioned that during the siege of Ayutthaya in 1766 CE, a fire broke out on the northside of the city continued south and only stopped at Wat Chatthan. The fire likely stopped when arriving at the canal, linking the Chakrai Noi Canal with the Tha Jin Canal, south of the Pa Thon Road.

In conclusion: In my opinion, Wat Chatthan stood south of Pa Thon Road, as well as south of the canal over which the Wat Chatthan Bridge was constructed the position PBR and the FAD 1993 maps indicate. The main canal, parallel with Pa Thon Road, crossed by the Chatthan Bridge, was north of the temple. The canal is now filled up.
Wat Chatthan was approximately in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 8.57" N, 100° 34' 6.52" E.
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Pratu Jin, or the Canal of the Chinese Gate, is part of a waterway running through the middle of Ayutthaya from north to south. The canal ran from the Chikun Bridge to the Chinese water gate (Pratu Jin), one of the eleven water gates at that time and was an extension of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak. The canal was a shortcut through the oxbow of the Lopburi River and connected the old Lopburi River, present Khlong Mueang in the north with - what is today - the Chao Phraya River in the south. The canal could have been the eastern defence moat of the initial city.
References:
[1] Alabaster, Henry (1871). The Wheel of The Law. London: Trubner & Co. p. 295.[2] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 229.[3] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 514.[4] Amatyakul, Tri (1957). Guide to Ayudhya and Bang-Pa-In. Bangkok: Prachandra Press.[5] Baker, Chris (2014). Final Part of the Description of Ayutthaya with Remarks on Defense, Policing, Infrastructure, and Sacred Sites. Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 102.