WAT JONG KROM





Wat Jong Krom is a restored ruin located off the city island in the northern area of Ayutthaya, in the Khlong Sra Bua district. The temple was situated in an area called Thung Khwan (1), nearly on the same northwest axis parallel to Khlong Sra Bua (2), between Wat Phraya Maen and Wat Phra Ram. Wat Prasat stood north and adjacent to Wat Jong Krom. The name of the monastery likely refers to a walking meditation technique. (3)


The site features a chedi, a vihara, an ordination hall and different minor chedis, all surrounded by a wall. The ground plan of the monastery is a bit uncommon. In olden times it was the rule that in addition to a stupa (prang or chedi), there was a vihara. Stupa and vihara - in the simplest design - stood in the same central longitudinal axis. Often a chedi was first built as a memorial, indicating the exact spot at which the event took place in whose memory the temple was established. As we find here the ordination hall (Ubosot) not on the main axis, the ubosot was presumably built at a later stage. [1]


Traditions, though, have been kept, as the ordination hall was built parallel to the vihara and placed in the centre of the monastic complex as it is the most accentuated religious building. The outer wall dates probably from the same time as the construction of the Ubosot.


The principal stupa is a bell-shaped chedi in Ayutthaya style, built on an octagonal foundation (in the cardinal and inter-cardinal directions). The chedi has an entry in the east, leading into its sanctity via a staircase. In the cella along the inner wall were niches built where once Buddha images stood.





The vihara stands in the usual position east of the Phra chedi, with its entrance facing east towards the old Lopburi River. The building measured 11.7 meters in width on 19.2 meters in length, nearing the 1:2 classic proportion. The vihara has been restored at least four times.


The ordination hall, parallel to the vihara, had also its main entrance to the east. There were three doors in the front and two in the back, but the latter back doors were closed. The ubosot had three windows on each side, an odd number preferred in Siamese art. [1] The main Buddha image stood on a pedestal on the west side. The monastic building measured 9.2 meters in width on 16.4 meters in length.


On the axis between the vihara and the ordination hall near the eastern entry, there is a stupa. Only the square-shaped foundations are left. The sides have a length of 7.8 meters. The chedi had a base in two steps. The lower base had stairs in the middle of each side. A balustrade surrounded the upper base. Local villagers indicate the structure as the bell tower of the complex.


A moat surrounded the whole temple complex including the monk's quarters. The monk's dwellings were situated in the south as it was a general rule that their quarters must lie to the right side of the main Buddha image of the Ubosot.


Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown. Wat Jong Krom was abandoned during the Siam - Burmese war, which led to the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE. The monastery was used again in the early Rattanakosin period.





During excavations in situ, a kiln was discovered, which led to the assumption that the bricks for the monastery's construction were made on location. Kilns in situ were also found, for example, at Wat Phutthaisawan. (4)


Wat Jong Krom is only found on recent Fine Arts Department maps and bears here either the name Wat Jong Krom (วัดจงกรม - 1993 map) or Wat Jong Klom (วัดจงกลม - 1974, 2007 maps). The ruins are in geographical coordinates: 14° 22' 28.63" N, 100° 33' 19.04" E.


Footnotes:


(1) Thung Khwan, or "Field of Fumes", is an area north of the city of Ayutthaya bordered on the north by Thung Lum Phli, on the east by Khlong Sra Bua and Thung Kaeo, in the south by the old Lopburi River and in the west by Thung Phukhao Thong.

(2) Khlong Sra Bua, or the Lilly Pond Canal, is situated in the northern area, off the city island, in the Khlong Sra Bua District. The waterway splits from Khlong Hua Ro between Wat Ngiu (defunct) and Wat Si Liam. The canal has its mouth at the City Canal (Khlong Mueang) between Wat Na Phra Men and Wat Mai in front of the northeastern corner of the Grand Palace. The canal was a shortcut in the old Lopburi River.

(3) จงกรม = to walk back and forth. The Fine Arts Department mentions ‘Wat Jong Klom’ in situ, but I presume it is ‘Wat Jong Krom’ as indicated on the 1993 FAD map.

(4) Issue explained by Prof. Bidya Sriwattanasarn in location on 26 June 2010.


References:


[1] Döhring, Karl (1920). Buddhist temples of Thailand (Buddhistische Tempelanlagen in Siam).