Wat Maha Lok, or the Monastery of the Great World, is still used by the Buddhist clergy. The monastery grounds look significant, and monk quarters (Kutis) are scattered around. The temple is off the city island on the Phaniat peninsula, just east of Wat Sam Wihan in the northeastern area, in the Hua Ro Sub-district. It lay along the new Lopburi River, opposite Wat Khae (on Ko Loi) and was strategically positioned at the confluence with the short waterway leading to the Pa Sak River.

The temple was mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya in the chapter on the usurpation of Khun Worawongsa in 1548 CE. When King Worawongsa ascended the throne of Ayutthaya, he made his brother, who stayed at Maha Lok, the Viceroy. I presume Maha Lok refers to the monastery Maha Lok.

"So the Queen issued an order for the Deputy of the Inner Palace to take the royal palanquin, the paraphernalia of kingly rank, the conch shell trumpets, and the members of the royal family out to escort Khun Warawongsa into the Royal Palace. Then the Royal Rite of Anointing the King was held to raise Khun Warawongsa up as the ruler of the realm of the Capital City of Ayutthaya. Thereafter Nai Can, Khun Warawongsa’s younger brother living at Maha Lok, was made the Uparat." [1]

Wat Maha Lok is found again in the chapter on the rebellion of Tham Thian in 1696 CE in the reign of King Phetracha (1688-1703 CE). Tham Thian tried to attack the city of Ayutthaya from this location, but was struck by the guns of the Maha Chai Fortress, fell from his elephant and died.

“Meanwhile, the Supreme Holy Lord Omnipotent assumed in His holy heart that Phra Khwan and his troops were advancing and thereupon ordered His holy throne boat to be prepared with the intention of fleeing. The Prince of the Holy Royal Palace Enclosure of the Excellent Site of Auspiciousness and one of His original crown servants prostrated themselves and said to the King, “We would beg to take a look to be sure first.” Then they ascended to take a look from on top of the Fort of Grand Victory. Meanwhile, Tham Thian, having driven his elephant on in to the edge of the Monastery of the Grand World, had advanced to the middle of the dam embankment. The original crown servant looked and saw his features clearly, realized that he, in truth, was not Lord Phra Khwan, and thereupon informed the Prince of the Holy Royal Palace Enclosure of the Excellent Site of Auspiciousness. He issued a holy command ordering [men] to fire the great guns forth. They struck Tham Thian and he fell off the elephant and died. The Khula riding on the rear of his elephant leaped down from the elephant and fled off. [Men] were able to follow and catch him in the Vicinity of the Monastery of the Parallel Khao San Forest. The retainers, soldiers and leaders were routed and fled, scattering about, while the male troops and female troops who had been advancing along behind still marched forward in great crowds. Now that bull elephant Kang was caught and brought in to be presented to the King. As for all those groups of people, men and women, the Supreme Holy Lord Omnipotent manifested His holy compassion to them by saying, “The wretches are people of ignorance, with no discoverable sense. Set the wretches free and do not inflict any punishment on them!” [2]

The exact date of construction of the monastery is unknown, but it apparently existed already in the mid-16th century.

The temple's name 'Maha Lok' could refer to one of the positive planes of existence in Hindu mythology being, Maharlok (Sanskrit: Plane of greatness), located above the plane of Heaven (Swargalok). It is also called the Devaloka, the fourth highest of the seven upper worlds. The Lokas, or Worlds, are described in the Vishnu Purana, one of the eighteen Maha Puranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism.

Wat Maha Lok is in geographical coordinates: 14° 22' 14.25" N, 100° 34' 30.02" E.

The monastery shows on Phraya Boran Rachathanin’s map of 1926 CE. Phraya Boran (1871-1936 CE) was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE but occupied important functions since 1896 CE in Monthon Ayutthaya.


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. pp. 22-3.

[2] Ibid. p. 322.