Wat Hantra, or the Monastery of the Division of the Seal as Cushman translate it, is an active Buddhist temple located off the city island of Ayutthaya, in the northeastern area, in the Hantra Sub-district. The temple is on the east bank of Khlong Hantra (1) in an area called Thung Hantra (2). Wat Maheyong, Wat Sika Samut and Wat Chang are in the west Wat Krasang is in the south.

Based on the chronicles, the monastery was established or renovated in 1738 CE in the reign of King Borommakot (1733-1758 CE). The structure was abandoned after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE. Around 1940 CE, Phra Khru Yan Wuttikan of Wat Sakae re-activated the temple.

The ordination hall is built of brick and mortar in the late Ayutthaya style, with the base of the building curved (3). The rectangular structure, facing east as common, is 14.5 metres long and 10 m wide with a protruding porch of 4.6 metres long and 4.5 metres wide. The ubosot is of the Maha-Ut type with no backdoors or windows. There are three entries in the front. Two rows of four round pillars support the roof of the building. Six round pillars support the roof of the front porch, while the rear porch has four.

In front of the ubosot are two twelve- and twenty-rabbeted-angled chedis in a square plan set 4 metres apart with a height of approximately 9.5 metres. Both chedis are assumed to have been constructed in the early Rattanakosin period (1782-1855 CE).

A wall surrounding the Phutthawat area, consisting of the ordination hall and the two chedis, measures 56 metres long and 30 metres wide. Each of the sides has two entrances. The Sanghawat area is situated to the south.


The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mentions at least twice the Hantra Monastery or the Hantra village. The Royal Autograph version teaches us that King Borommakot left the Royal Palace in a Royal Barge procession to dedicate this monastery in the month of June 1738 CE. A celebration festival was held for three days in which alms were offered to the monks. On the third day of the celebrations, elephant tusk fights were held but interrupted by a heavy rainstorm.

"Reaching 1100 of the Royal Era, the year of the horse, tenth of the decade, during the sixth month, His Majesty the Supreme Holy Lord of the Realm went in holy royal procession with a formation of military barges to dedicate the Monastery of the Division of the Seal, had a festival to celebrate the holy temple held for three days, and offered appropriate alms articles to the holy monks and clerics in great numbers. On that day which was the last [of the festival, the King] had elephants brought out to tusk fight with each other and a great storm developed, rain falling heavily. After the affair was completed, His Majesty returned and entered the Holy Metropolis." [1]

"Now, in the sixth month of the year of the horse [1738], tenth of the decade, the Monastery of the Deterioration of the Seal was dedicated." [2]

It was also near Ban Hantra that Phraya Tak - the later King Taksin (reign 1767-1782 CE) - broke through the Burmese encirclement end of 1766 CE, in his escape to the south, after having encamped at Wat Phichai.

"As soon as it began to rain hard, forming an auspicious moment propitious for victory, the Phraya of Kamphæng Phet accordingly led the brigades of his army forth from the stockade at the Monastery of Victory and marched his army along toward the Village of the Division of the Seal. Just as it was getting dark, meanwhile, the brigades of a Burmese army, having learned [about his flight], managed to advance in pursuit and catch up with him, and they faced and fought each other in capable fashion. The Burmese army, being unable to withstand [his army], retreated and went back." [3]

An unfolded segment of a carved wooden door belonging to a monastic building of Wat Hantra featuring a warrior riding a Kylin (4) is displayed at the Chao Sam Phraya Museum [4].

Four old Chinese bells with dragon and fish designs, inclusive of Chinese inscriptions, were found on the premises of the monastery. The bells arrived probably with junks from China and are evidence of a thriving business between China and Siam. The bells can be admired at the Chan Kasem Museum in Ayutthaya.

Wat Hantra is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 47.09" N, 100° 36' 15.94" E.


(1) Khlong Hantra flows through the sub-district of the same name and is formerly referred to as Thung Hantra or Hantra Fields. This canal was once a stretch of the Pa Sak River, meandering around the former Ban Ma (Horse village) east of Ayutthaya. When the latter was diverted towards the Front city moat at some stage, the old riverbed was divided up into different canals: Khlong Hantra (from Wat Pa Kho till Wat Krasang), Khlong Kramang (from Wat Krasang till the entry of Khlong Doem), Khlong Dusit (called after Wat Dusitharam on its west bank) and Khlong Khao San (with its mouth at the present Pa Sak River, being the southern end of the former Front city moat). Khlong Hantra was one of the most important former canals, east of Ayutthaya, bordering the ancient Ayodhya area.
(2) Thung Hantra was the area bordered on the north by Ban Ma on the east by Khlong Kot, on the south by Khlong Khao Mao and on the west by Khlong Hantra, part of a loop in the old Pa Sak River. The field was probably named after a hamlet in this isolated area. The field was used as an assembly and formation area for the army in preparation for campaigns. In front of Thung Hantra near Ban Dokmai stood a wooden fort. The fort is indicated on the French map "Carte Du Cours Du Menan, Depuis Siam Jusqu’ la Mer, levée sur les Lieux par Ingénieurs Français" with the name "Fort de Bois". The fortification is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya during the war with Hongsawadi in 1563-64 CE.
(3) The golden junk or ship. In the " Life of Buddha," we read of "the lustrous vessel of the true law," by which Buddha would enable men to cross the ocean of transmigrating existence and reach the other shore, i.e., Nirwana. The symbol is probably connected with the Hindu legend of the precious things recovered by churning the ocean in the tortoise incarnation of Vishnu. The ship was one of the precious things. [5]
(4) The Kylin (also spelt Kirin, Kyrin, Qilin, Qyrin) is an animal out of ancient Chinese mythology, sometimes called the "Chinese unicorn". It is a hoofed creature somewhat like a deer, with horns on the head, scales over the body and an ox-tail. The animal was believed to spit fire and roar like thunder. The Kylin was one of the "Four Divine Creatures", the other three being the phoenix, the turtle and the dragon and was ranked second among the latter. It was considered a celestial and benevolent animal of longevity in ancient times the mount for a god and a symbol of auspiciousness. [6]


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 433.
[2] Ibid. p. 433.
[3] Ibid. p. 514.
[4] Namchom Phiphithaphan Sathan Haeng Chat Jao Sam Phraya - Krom Silpakon (2000) - page 99.
[5] Alabaster, Henry (1871). The Wheel of The Law. London: Trubner & Co.
[6] traditions.cultural-china.com