WAT KA RONG





Wat Ka Rong. or the Monastery of the Crying Crow, was located off the city island in the western area of Ayutthaya in the Ban Pom Sub-district. The monastery stood on the south bank of the present Chao Phraya River and near Wat Tha.

Depending on which version of the Ayutthaya chronicles is consulted, sources speak about Wat Ka Rong or Wat Tha Ka Rong or the "Monastery of the Landing of the Crying Crow" Phraya Boran Ratchathanin's map of 1926 CE clearly indicates two monastic structures being Wat Tha (the Monastery of the Landing) and Wat Ka Rong (the Monastery of the Crying Crow). The two temples were eventually merged to establish the present Wat Tha Ka Rong or the "Monastery of the Landing of the Crying Crow".

The Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention the temple's existence for the first time in the mid-sixteenth century, but the monastery was likely established much earlier.

Nothing much remains of Wat Ka Rong. On the site of the former monastery, a commemoration pavilion has been erected, covering an image of the Buddha. A crow statue stands on top of what was once maybe a part of a toppled chedi, the crow being now the symbol of the modern-day Wat Tha Ka Rong.

The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention the Ka Rong temple quite a few times, as it was close to the confluence of the connecting canal to the Chao Phraya River and the Lopburi River and nearly opposite the Grand Palace. When the Hongsawadi (Peguan) army attacked Ayutthaya in 1549 CE, the area became a theatre of war. The Peguans encircled Ayutthaya completely. The army of the Phraya of Tongu, the army of the Lakhoeng, and the commissariat set up their stockade from Ka Rong Monastery down to the Chai Watthanaram Monastery. The armies, which were set up in a circle around the capital, in only one day finished making a network of bridges of bamboo slats sewn with rattan across all the rivers, streams and canals so the troops and horses could cross.

"The King of Hongsawadi, having spoken, marched his army down to Ayutthaya on the following day, on Wednesday, the tenth day of the waning moon of the second month, 911, a year of the cock, first of the decade. The army of the Uparat, the vanguard, set up its stockade in Phaniat Township. The stockade of the King of Præ, the left wing, was set up at Thung Wat Photharam Township to Kò Kæo Canal. The army of the King of Ava, the right wing, set up its stockade at Thung Wat Phutthaisawan Township to Takhian Canal. The army of the Phraya of Tòngu, the army of the Phraya of Cittòng and the army of the Phraya of Lakhoeng, the commissariat, set up their stockade from Ka Ròng Monastery down to Chai Watthanaram Monastery. The army of the Phraya of Bassein and the army of the Phraya of Sariang, the vanguard of the main army, set up their stockade at Lumphli Township. The main army set up its stockade at Wat Pho Phüak Township, on the Pakkhu tax station rice fields. And the army of Prince Maha Thammaracha set up its stockade in Makham Yòng Township behind the royal stockade. The armies, which were set up in a circle around the Capital, in only one day finished making a network of bridges of bamboo slats sewn with rattan across all the rivers, streams and canals so the troops and horses could walk anywhere." [1]





(View of a vihara on the site of Wat Ka Rong - July 2009 CE)



The chronicles recount that Nemiao Sihabodi, the General of the Burmese Armies, at the end of 1766 CE, sent soldiers to establish an enclosure at the Monastery of the Crying Crow to build tall forts with bastions so that they could fire their large guns at the City of Ayutthaya. The Siamese attacked the Burmese with a boat army. One of their leaders was dancing with a sword in hand in front of the boat, probably showing the Burmese they were not feared, protected by occult incantations. However, he was shot at by the Burmese and fell into the water, whereupon the whole boat army retreated to the city.


“[Posuphla] advanced forward and established his stockade at the Three Fig Trees. Then he sent men to establish stockades at the Village of the Fort and the Monastery of the Landing of the Crying Crow and built tall forts.” [2]


The Burmese fort at Wat Ka Rong was one of the forts which started the last cannonade of Ayutthaya. The Chronicles mention that on Tuesday, the 9th day of the waxing moon, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the large canons of the forts at the Tha Ka Rong Monastery fired their deadly load on the Royal city. At the same time, combustibles were set alight under the foundations of the defence walls at Hua Ro, beside the Maha Chai Fort. The defence wall collapsed around eight o'clock in the evening, and the Burmese made their final assault. Ayutthaya fell that night, never to arise.


"Reaching 1129 of the Royal Era, a year of the boar, ninth of the decade, and arriving at a Tuesday, the ninth day of the waxing moon in the fifth month, the ninth day and middle day of the New Years Festival, the Burmese lighted fires to burn the combustible firewood under the foundations of the walls opposite the Head of the Sluice beside the Fort of Grand Victory, and the Burmese in the stockades of the Monastery of the Crying Crow and of the Monastery of the Jubilant Lady, as well as in each and every other stockade, lit [the fuses of] their great guns—the guns in the forts and in the bastions—and simultaneously fired them on into the Capital in volleys from a little past three mong in the afternoon until dusk. As soon as the walls where they had lit the combustible firewood to consume the foundations had collapsed somewhat, around the second thum, they thereupon had [the fuse of] the signal gun lit. The Burmese troops of each brigade on each side who had been prepared, having accordingly taken their ladders and simultaneously leaned them against the places where the walls had collapsed and against other places all around the Holy Metropolis, climbed them and were able to enter the Capital at that time. Now they lit fires in every vicinity and burned down buildings, houses, hermitages and the Holy Royal Palace Enclosure, including the palaces and royal domicile. The light of the conflagration was as bright as the middle of the day. Then they toured around to chase and capture people, and to search out and confiscate all their various sorts of valuables, [whether] silver, gold, or [other] belongings." [3]


The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 19.34" N, 100° 32' 35.37" E.





(View of the Buddha image on the old site of Wat Ka Rong - July 2009 CE)



Footnotes:


(1) The Ayutthaya chronicles mention here Wat Chai Watthanaram in 1549 CE, although the latter was built in the 17th century. It is a discrepancy and proof that the Chronicles have been written at a much later stage.


References:


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 47.

[2] Ibid. p. 511.

[3] Ibid. p. 520.





(The temple was named after a crying crow - July 2009 CE)