WAT PI RAI





Wat Pi Rai was situated in the southwestern area of Ayutthaya’s city island in the Pratu Chai Sub-district and the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The temple was located at the confluence of Khlong Chakrai Yai (1) and Khlong Tha Phra (2). The monastery stood on the west bank of Khlong Chakrai Yai and the north bank of Khlong Tha Phra.


Wat Kao (defunct) stood in the north, while Wat Pa Phat (defunct) was south. Opposite Khlong Chakrai stood Wat Chana Man (defunct).


The ancient site was cleared in the early 1970s during construction works of an expansion project of the (former) Ayutthaya Agriculture School (Withayalai Kasetrakam). There are no traces of foundations or brickwork at ground level, and I classified the temple as defunct. [1]


A 19th-century map shows the location of Wat Pi Rai as Wat Salak or the "Monastery of the Chisel" and positions Wat Yi Rai (the original spelling for Wat Pi Rai) just opposite of Wat Salak, on the south bank of Khlong Tha Phra. Phraya Boran Rachathanin (PBR) names this position Wat Pa Phat.


Wat Pi Rai is mentioned on the PBRs map drafted in 1926 CE but is also mentioned in the original spelling Wat Yi Rai. I have no idea why the Fine Arts Department changed its spelling on their maps.


Through the years, there has been a mix-up of the names of different sites in this area.

Historical data about the monastery and its construction is unknown.

Wat Pi Rai was in geographical coordinates: 14° 20' 51.89" N, 100° 33' 20.92" E.


Footnotes:

(1) Khlong Chakrai Yai is part of a waterway running through the west of Ayutthaya from north to south. The canal was the extension of Khlong Pak Tho and ran from the Lam Hoei Bridge to the Chakrai Yai Gate opposite Wat Phutthaisawan. The canal was a shortcut through the oxbow of the Lopburi River and connected the old Lopburi River, present Khlong Mueang in the north with - what is today - the Chao Phraya River in the south. Ban Chakrai was a village located on the city island but outside the city walls.
(2) Khlong Tha Phra, also known as Khlong Klaep, is a defunct canal situated on Ayutthaya's city island. Some stretches of this old canal still can be seen today on the western side. The canal had its mouth at the old Lopburi River, today renamed the Chao Phraya River. Here stood one of the eleven water gates around the island called Pratu Khlong Tha Phra. The canal ended at the confluence with Khlong Chakrai Yai. Beyond this confluence, it continued in an eastern direction as Khlong Pa Mo and joined the Pratu Thep Mi Canal. There is evidence that this canal continued eastwards in a straight line to join Khlong Makham Riang.





References:


[1] Bangkok Post - 09 Dec 1972 - Work suspended on Ayutthaya sites. The article states that “machinery engaged on the Ayutthaya Agriculture School extensions ploughed up the ruins of at least five temples in the disputed area”. The work at the school was stopped after students had sent a petition to the NEC. The Director-General of the Fine Arts Department stated he was sure the damage had already been done.