Wat Krachai is a restored ruin located off the main island, on the western side of Ayutthaya, in the Pak Kran Sub-district. The monastery was named after the 'Boesenbergia rotunda', commonly known as Chinese keys, fingerroot, lesser galangal or Chinese ginger, a medicinal and culinary herb from China and Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it is cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes.

The site is sometimes called Wat Krasai, but this is due to a misreading/writing of the consonants (ซ and ข). Many temples are named after essential trees or plants this monastery is no exception.

There must have been a canal in its vicinity, as Ayutthaya was known for its water transportation system, but the waterway is today defunct. The monastery can be reached via Road No 3409 and can be seen from Road No 347.

Wat Krachai is in the middle of the rice fields, where periodic flooding is common and has remained largely secluded until recently. The temple's establishment date is unknown, but Wat Krachai is assumed to date to the early Ayutthaya period (1351 - 1488 CE). The first monastic buildings were constructed on a manufactured mound to avoid flooding. Very few ancient objects from that period were found.

In the middle Ayutthaya period (1488- 629 CE), the site was restored and enlarged. Wat Krachai received a tall stupa in a similar style as Wat Sam Pluem, Wat Suwannawat, Wat Nang Kham, Wat Jong Krom, Wat Langkha Khao, and Wat Phra Ram (Thung Khwan). All were constructed with brick and mortar, having an octagonal base, a bell-shaped dome and an octagonal-shaped harmika. In front of the principal chedi of Wat Krachai, a vihara facing east was constructed. The principal chedi was surrounded by four auxiliary chedis forming a quincunx. The whole was built on an east-west axis.

(View of the chedi of Wat Krachai - July 2009 CE)

In the late Ayutthaya period (1629-1767 CE), significant changes occurred, and additional new structures were added. The vihara in front of the main pagoda was transformed into an ordination hall based on the findings of remnants of the base and boundary stones. Smaller chedis were added, and an outer wall was built around the complex. It is assumed that in the past, there was a moat surrounding the monastery area.

On the mound south of the main pagoda, fragments of pottery and jars from the Maenam Noi (Singburi) kilns and the Ban Bang Pun (Suphanburi) kilns were found. Most of them were household appliances, including scraps of roof tiles. No religious images were found. It is assumed that the mound in this area was the area of the Sanghawat.

The monastic structures of Wat Rang, a brick mound just east of Wat Krachai, could be part of the site of Wat Krachai as it was a considerably large ruin.

(View of the base of the chedi of Wat Krachai. Entry made by looters - July 2009 CE)


Wat Krachai is mentioned as the burial location of Phra Sri Sin, a grandson of King Narai, due to treason. He was taken to Wat Krachai and buried there alive.

The historical background and construction period of the former monastery are unknown, although the temple is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The army of the Burmese General Nemiao Sihabodi (Ne Myo Thihapate) set up army camps around the city of Ayutthaya in early 1767 CE. One of the enclosures reinforced with bastions was set up at Wat Krachai. From this position, the city was fired at with large guns.

"The next morning Nemiao, the general of the armies, conscripted men and had all his army masters and brigade masters lead them on in to establish stockades at the Monastery of the Krachai Plant, the Monastery of the Victory Pavilion, the Monastery of the Tortoise, the Monastery of the God Indra and the Monastery of Red. They had bastions built in each and every stockade and large and small guns taken up onto them to be fired at the capital in volleys.” [1] (Named respectively: Wat Krachai, Wat Ta Muk, Wat Tao, Wat Suren and Wat Daeng)

Wat Krachai was thus an army base of the Burmese in the second Ayutthaya - Burmese war. There is evidence of buildings being modified, such as the thickness of walls and distinctive entrances to the site for army purposes. Knives, spears, swords, lances, and cannon balls were discovered during archaeological excavation.

(Remnants of broken Buddha images at Wat Krachai - July 2009 CE)

The curse of Wat Krachai

Villagers say that Wat Krachai is haunted. It is believed that there are still many treasures from the Ayutthaya era hidden underground, which attract looters digging for gold, jewels, and amulets. Spirits are said to guard these treasures, and any gold digger disturbing the site meets an unfaithful end. Many people hung themselves on the site, and some stated that “people even chartered a van from Bangkok to hang themselves at this temple.” The known last self-inflicted hanging dates to 24 March 2020. [2]

Wat Krachai is in geographical coordinates: 14° 19' 58.68" N, 100° 32' 4.84" E.


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 512.

[2] 25 March 2020 - www.amarintv.com/news/detail/24203