WAT KASATTRATHIRAT





Wat Kasattrathirat, or the Monastery of the Great Abode (1), is an active monastery located off the city island along the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, north of road No 3263 leading to Suphanburi. It is situated in the Ban Pom Sub-district of Ayutthaya and lies at the border of a large field called Thung Prachet (2).


Besides the ordination hall and the relatively small prang, most monastic buildings are from recent times. Although the history of this temple remains hazy, it is presumed built in the middle Ayutthaya period (1488-1629 CE). The principal prang is thick and round in shape and not as streamlined as the other prangs in Ayutthaya. There are no stairs to access the niche inside the prang. Traces of restoration are, for example, the bell-shaped chedis in the niches, which earlier contained Buddha images.


The temple was renovated in the first reign of the Rattanakosin period (1782-1809 CE) by Prince Khrom Khun Isranurak, a nephew of King Rama I. The renovation was, in essence, a complete overhaul of the temple. The temple then changed its name from Wat Kasattra to Wat Kasattrathirat.


In the reign of King Rama IV, Phra Kru Winyanuwattikhun added more monastic buildings. These new buildings included a new chapel sponsored by Khrom Mun Ayulyaluksa Sombat (Prince Urai). The new chapel took 14 years to be finished in 1879 CE.





(View of the premises of Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan)



Wat Kasattrathirat is classified as a third-class Royal temple of the 2nd grade - Worawihan, following a ranking system for royal temples initiated in 1913 CE and consequently has beautiful carved double bai semas around the ordination hall. [1]


The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya recount that Posuphla, the General of the Burmese Armies, at the end of 1766 CE, sent soldiers to establish a stockade at the Village of the Fort (Ban Pom) so that they could fire their large guns on the City of Ayutthaya. [2] Wat Kasattra was badly destroyed and deserted during the last siege of Ayutthaya by the Burmese.


Near Wat Kasattra was one of the former four western ferries across the old Lopburi River - currently the Chao Phraya River (3) - linking the monastery with the Dan Lom Landing. (4)


The site is indicated on a 19th-century map as Wat Krasattraram (วัดกระสัตตราราม) and on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE as Wat Kasattra (วัดกษัตรา). On the oldest map, we find the presence of a prang, which is still in existence.


Wat Kasattrathirat is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 7.56" N, 100° 32' 39.08" E.





(View of the main prang of Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan)



Footnotes:

(1) In Sanskrit, 'kṣetra' denotes a holy "field, area, tract of land” or abode, but many more definitions exist. The 'Phongsawadan Nua' states that the three types of men are: ksatriya (warriors), setthi, and Brahman, of which a King would be selected. The translation of ‘Kasattra’ could thus be ‘King’ or ‘Abode’. I chose Abode.(2) Thung Prachet, also called Thung Worachet, was an area west of the city of Ayutthaya bordered approximately in the north by the old connection canal to the Chao Phraya River, a stretch of the old Bang Kaeo River in the east the old Lopburi River, today the Chao Phraya River in the south Khlong Klaep leading to Wat Suren and in the west Khlong Khu Mon. In the area ran Khlong Ban Pom, a waterway leading from the old Chao Phraya River connection canal to Wat Worachet.(3) Not many people realise the Chao Phraya River was not running on the west side of the city island in the Ayutthaya period. At that time, it was the Lopburi River that flowed around Ayutthaya. Today's Chao Phraya River ran through the Bang Ban Canal to Si Kuk and from there to Bang Sai (historical site: Chedi Wat Sanam Chai), where the Lopburi River joined the Chao Phraya River. At the time, the Chao Phraya River was situated about ten kilometres west of the centre of Ayutthaya. The city was linked to the ancient Chao Phraya River in the northwest of Ayutthaya via the Khlong Maha Phram and in the southwest via the Khlong Nam Ya. Steve Van Beeck (1994), in 'The Chao Phya: River in Transition" (Oxford University Press - New York.), writes that "It was not until 1857 that an alternative path was created [for the Chao Phraya River]. A 5-kilometre channel was dug from the entrance of Wat Chulamani to Ban Mai. The river responded by following this new course and abandoning the old one, in effect making a secondary river of the stretch that ran from Ban Mai, and into the Chao Phya Noi. Half as wide as the river above and below it, the 1857 Ban Mai shunt funnels the Chao Phya down to Ayutthaya."

(4) In the late Ayutthaya period, there were twenty-two ferry routes. In the western area, the three other crossings were from Wat Chayaram to Ban Chi, from the Rear Palace to Wat Lot Chong and from Chao Phraya Phonlathep’s residence to Wat Thamma.


References:

[1] Website www.dhammathai.org/watthai/listroyalwat1.php - data retrieved 14 Dec 09.

[2] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 511.

[3] Ratchathanin, Phraya Boran. Athibai Phaenthi Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya kap khamwinitjai khong Phraya Boran Racha Thanin. Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of Phraya Boran Ratchathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Ton Chabab print office. Nonthaburi (2007). p. 92.