WAT LAT





Wat Lat, or the sloping temple, is situated on Ayutthaya’s city island in Tha Wasukri Sub-district. The monastery is constructed in an elevated position, hence its name. The temple is also known as Wat Chaiyaphum. (1) Some refer to it as Wat Pa Than (2) or Wat Saphan Than (3), but this is in my opinion not correct as this temple was situated on the north side of Wat Lat and near the Pa Than Bridge (ruin).


The monastery stood on the east bank of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak, south of Wat Saphan Than and opposite Wat Maha That (on the other side of the canal). A wooden bridge over the canal, called the Wat Lat Bridge, offered access to the monastery via Chikun Road. [1]


The restored ruin is not visible from the road, and you need to leave the road and walk about 25 metres inside to reach the site.


Architecture


The structures that remain from this monastery are a bell-shaped chedi and a vihara situated on an elevated earthen mound.


The base of the brick chedi is square and surmounted by a terrace which gives access to the eastern entry of the drum. Above the drum is the heavily damaged dome. The harmika is also severely damaged that even its square form is difficult to discern. The nine-tiered spire is in slightly better shape.


The main building with its entrance to the east was likely a sermon hall, as no traces of boundary stones were seen on the site. The brick foundations are surrounded by a series of chedis, which (like the boundary stones) had the function of warding off evil spirits.


A relatively large face of a Buddha image survived and laid in the location of the central Buddha pedestal next to stacks of debris from other Buddha images.


Traces of the monastery's outer wall are not visible.


The ruin has been restored in 2013 CE after the massive flooding of Ayutthaya in 2011.


Maps


Wat Lat shows on Kaempfer’s map on the east bank of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak but does not indicate the Wat Lat bridge. The monastery is marked with two stupas. To the north and near the Pa Than Bridge is another temple drawn which must be Wat Saphan Than.


Based on an overlay made of the mid-19th century map drawn by an unknown surveyor, the position of Wat Lat is located much more south compared with the restored ruin of Wat Lat. The monastery stands more or less where Phraya Boran Rachathanin (PBR) situates Wat Pet on his 1926 CE map. The mid-19th century map indicates the existence of a prang on an indented square base, but Wat Lat has a chedi (4). As we know, Wat Lat stands opposite Wat Maha That. We find on the mid-19th century map a monastery called Wat Kut in this position, while Wat Pa Than stood just north of it. This monastery is indicated with a chedi. I conclude that Wat Lat was shown as Wat Kut on this map from nearly two centuries ago.


Phraya Boran Rachathanin indicates Wat Lat south of Wat Saphan Than and the Pa Than Bridge along the Pratu Khao Pluak Canal. The monastery stands opposite Wat Maha That. Wat Pet is in the south, and Wat Khok Muang is in the southeast.


Wat Lat appears on all the Fine Arts Department maps. The 1993 FAD map shows it for the first time as Wat Chaiyaphum. The name change likely occurred in an attempt to pinpoint the location as described in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Historical data on Wat Lat and its construction is unknown.


The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 25.94" N, 100° 34' 11.96" E.


Footnotes:


(1) The monastery of the Strategic Location.

(2) The monastery of the Charcoal Quarter.

(3) The monastery of the Charcoal Bridge.

(4) The map shows a bridge in front of Wat Lat.





References:


[1] Baker, Chris (2014). Final Part of the Description of Ayutthaya with Remarks on Defense, Policing, Infrastructure, and Sacred Sites. Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 102.



Groundplan of Wat Lat



Reference: Krom Sinlapakorn (1968), Phra Rachawang lae Wat Boran nai Jangwat Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya (Fine Arts Department).





No 1: The main stupa is round and built on a square base of 10.40 metres wide and is about 9.50 metres in diameter.


No 2: The bases of minor chedis are arranged around the temple. These chedis have a diameter of 3 metres.


No 3: The base of the vihara. There were two rows of brick. The outer brick row was likely the outer wall, 15 metres wide and 44 metres long, while the inner brick row is probably the vihara wall, 9 metres wide and 42 metres wide. The single entrance door is in the front. The vihara on the left side is closely aligned with the interior plan.


No 4: The base of the altar, which enshrined the main Buddha image.


No. 5: The raised area to be the base of the vihara and pagoda is 24 metres wide and 72.00 metres long. It has a porch extending at the front, 5 metres long on 10.50 meters wide. To the north, there is a rectangular pool measuring 16 metres in width.