WAT LANGKA





Wat Langka is a restored temple ruin situated on Ayutthaya’s city island in Hua Ro Sub-district. The site is located on the east bank of Khlong Makham Riang, which was known as Khlong Nai Kai during the Ayutthaya period. Naresuan Road is situated just north of this monastery. Its name refers probably to Sri Lanka.


The monastic site stood opposite Wat Salak (defunct) and in the vicinity of the wooden Si Saek Bridge on Pa Than Road (present Naresuan Road). Another temple (presumably Wat Jan) stood east of Wat Langka at about 250 metres distance.


Wat Langka stood in a non-populated area. Englebert Kaempfer has this area indicated as 'Campi Deserti" or deserted fields, while Jacques Nicolas Bellin has it as a 'Quartier Champêtre' or a rural zone.


Architecture


The largely deteriorated prang is the only structure that survived the time. Based on the floor plan and the architectural design, the structure belongs to the early Ayutthaya period.


Significant evidence of dating was its artistic work. Especially the stucco decoration shows the beauty and the importance of this prang back in its heydays. The stucco decoration and motifs were similar to the prangs of Wat Som and Wat Maha That in Ayutthaya, but there were some differences in the details. The stupa is thus believed to be from the late 14th century to the early 15th century.


A headless figure, likely a yaksa, is perched high above on the southwestern side. The yaksa is probably Guhyasthana, guardian of the southwest direction. He is usually depicted in black, carries a spear, and eliminates harmful spirits or demons. I presume that at earlier times, the yaksas of all the eight directions were displayed on the prang.


The prang is constructed on a redented low base with four projecting porches in the cardinal directions. The entrance to the prang is on the east, while the other porches are built as false porticos.


East of the prang stood likely a monastic hall, either a vihara or an ubosot, but there are no traces seen anymore of it today.


There is no record of when this temple was built. In my opinion, there is also no reference to this temple in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya.


Maps


Engelbert Kaempfer indicates the Si Saek Bridge but not this temple on his sketch. A road was running in front of the site along the Makham Riang Canal and along the south side of Pa Than Road (present Naresuan Road) ran a ditch or canal. Kaempfer indicates a temple and a bridge towards this temple at about 315 paces (approx. 240 metres) from the Si Saek Bridge. This temple could be Wat Jan on the mid-19th century map. Engelbert Kaempfer was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE.


Wat Langka figures on a mid-19th century map by an unknown surveyor. The temple is marked with a vihara and a stupa on the east bank of Khlong Makham Riang. Opposite the canal temple in a southwest direction stood Wat Khok Mueang, and in the east was Wat Jan.


Phraya Boran Rachathanin has Wat Salak along Khlong Makham Riang and Pa Than Road on his 1926 CE map. Wat Salak stood opposite Wat Langka, and in the south, in the marshy area of Bang Ian, was Wat Khok Dokmai. Phraya Boran was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE.


Although Kaempfer walked this area and marks it as a rural location, he does not mention this temple but mentions another temple in its vicinity. Could it be that the temple was built after his visit in 1690 CE? The base of this stupa is twenty-rabbeted-angled, a style dating back to the fourth sub-period, starting at the beginning of King Borommakot's reign (1732 CE). The latter was sent in 1753 CE, on request of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha of Sri Lanka (reign 1747-1782 CE), a Siamese mission to Sri Lanka to restore the Buddhist faith in that country. Is it possible that the monastery was established around that time in commemoration of that event?


The Fine Arts Department restored Wat Langka in 2012 CE after the massive flooding of Ayutthaya the year prior. The approximate sum of 38,500 USD was allocated for the purpose.


The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 29.46" N, 100° 34' 30.32" E.