WAT PHANOM YONG





Wat Phanom Yong, or the Monastery of Wet nurse Yong, is an active monastery located off Ayutthaya’s city island in the northwestern area, in the Tha Wasukri Sub-district. It is situated on the north bank of Khlong Mueang (1), the old Lopburi River in earlier times. Wat Sala Pun lies in its vicinity.


The history of this monastery is rather vague (as most of the ancient monasteries in Ayutthaya). The monastery was likely built during the reign of King Narai (1656-1688 CE). The story goes that the area once was a garden owned by a wet nurse of King Narai. This wet nurse (Phra Nom) was named Phrayong. Upon her death, a monastery was built and named in her honour. The initial name was Wat Phranom Yong, an aggregation of Phranom and Yong. Around 1923 CE, someone spelt the temple's name slightly differently, deviating from the original meaning of its original name - local people tended not to pronounce the letter "r" and the temple became known as Phanom Yong. The temple was deserted after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE. (2)





Wat Phanom Yong was rebuilt by King Chulalongkorn (reign 1868-1910 CE). The Phanomyong family still takes care of this temple. The old Phanomyong residency, now a memorial, is located on the opposite bank of the city canal and can be reached by crossing a bridge. (3)


The ordination hall is built in a mix of the early and late Ayutthaya style. The ubosot has a double-tiered roof. The elevated front porch has three entries, while four columns support the roof. The base of the hall is curved (junk shaped), indicative of the construction in the late Ayutthaya (1629 - 1767 CE) and early Rattanakosin (1782 - 1851 CE) period. The ubosot is surrounded by a wall, separating the sacred world within from the secular bustle outside.


In situ stands a vihara containing a large reclining Buddha image.


The ancient dock of the Royal barges was located between Wat Phanom Yong and Wat Choeng Tha, but nothing is left as the dock and barges were burned down during the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE.


The site is indicated on a 19th-century map and Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE.


Wat Phanom Yong is in Geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 42.59" N, 100° 33' 5.99" E.


Footnotes:


(1) Khlong Mueang, or the City Canal, is a stretch of the old Lopburi River on the northern side of Ayutthaya's city island. Many people believe it is a manufactured canal. The Lopburi River descending from the north, ran in the Ayutthaya period around the city and joined the Chao Phraya River near Bang Sai (below Bang Pa-In). Khlong Mueang is a remnant from that time. Today, the canal starts at Hua Ro and has its exit at the confluence with the Chao Phraya River near Hua Laem.

(2) The 19th-century maps already indicate Phanom instead of Phranom.

(3) The father of Pridi Phanomyong, Nai Siang, adapted the surname Phanomyong in 1866 CE. The name was derived from Khao Phanom Yong, a hill in Huai Sai Sub-district of Nong Khae District in Saraburi Province. The grandfather of Pridi, Nai Koet, was cremated here, and his remains were put in a shrine on the hill. Khao Phanom Yong was already of some importance at the end of the 17th or the beginning of the 18th century. In the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, we read that King Süa (reign 1703-1709 CE) visited the mountain to venerate a funeral site. "His Majesty thereupon advanced his groups of troops and headed off towards the east and His Majesty toured along to the Mountain of Phanom Yong. His Majesty thereupon ascended to venerate the holy funeral monument site on the top of that mountain and His Majesty remained there for another three days.” [1] The reason for this visit could be that King Süa went to pay respect to his deceased wet nurse instead of what was written earlier to be the one of King Narai. This issue needs further research. On Khao Phanom Yong sits Wat Sanom Thai.


References:


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 396.