Wat Senasanaram is an active temple situated in the northern part of Ayutthaya’s city island in the Hua Ro Sub-district. It is a first-class royal monastery with the rank Ratchavoravihan). The temple was established in the Rattanakosin period and is located south of and behind the Chan Kasem National Museum (the former Front Palace). The initial Ho Rattana Chai Canal started at the Ho Rattanachai Gate in a western direction for about 150 metres and was from this point filled in. From that point, a canal was dug in the reign of King Rama IV encircling the monastery and called Khlong Senasanaram.
The monastery's construction started in the reign of King Mongkut (1851-1868 CE) in 1862 CE, and Wat Senasanaram was established in 1863 CE. Rama IV was a devout Buddhist who, concerned that many superstitious practices had grown around the core Theravada teachings, founded a strict sect of reformist monks known as Thammayut, dedicated to purifying Buddhist practice. Wat Senasanaram became the first temple in Ayutthaya to practice Thammayut discipline.

Wat Senasanaram was one of the three religious schools in Ayutthaya where Dhamma courses were taught at a primary or secondary level (Nak Tham and Barian), the other two being Wat Suwan Dararam and Wat Phanan Choeng. King Mongkut believed that better education would contribute to his reform movements, so monastery schools were set up across the provinces and monks were encouraged to learn modern pedagogical methods. [1]

King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910 CE) continued with national reforms and sought to modernise the country. Therefore, he made Ayutthaya the provincial centre for education and administration. The "new" city’s hospital, police station, courthouse, and prison were all located within walking distance from Wat Senasanaram, which gave the monastery even greater importance. King Chulalongkorn made further renovations to Wat Senasanaram in 1884 CE. In 1885 CE, a year later, a school was established providing primary education for the people of Ayutthaya at the monastery and called Wat Senasanaram School.

In 1893 CE Monthon Krung Kao was created, one of the first monthons established as a trial of the "Thesaphiban" administrative system introduced by Prince Damrong Rajanubhab a system officialised by the Local Administration Act of 1897 CE. The establishment of the Monthon resulted in 1905 CE, Wat Senasanaram School being renamed Monthon Krung Kao Model School to provide elementary, secondary and teacher training levels. In 1941 CE, each level was moved to a separate building site.


Wat Senasanaram consists of numerous buildings of which the ordination hall, the chedi and two viharas are the most important.

The ubosot houses the Buddha image named Phra Sam Phuttha Muni and has beautiful mural paintings and a canvas portraying King Chulalongkorn. Phra Sam Phuttha Muni is a Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara. And has a lap width of 2 cubits 2 inches and a height of 3 cubits 1 inch. The mural paintings behind the main Buddha image shows gathering Devas, the same ones as those on the front and the upper sidewalls above the window frames. On the lower sidewalls, Dhamma puzzles were depicted. The Royal Ceremonies of the Twelve Months were portrayed clockwise between window frames. The murals also depict the observation of a solar eclipse by King Chulalongkorn (referring to the 6 April 1875 CE total solar eclipse) and musicians. (7) The front and back gables of the ordination hall are carved wood, gilded with gold and depicting the three-headed elephant Erawan, the mount of the God Indra, flanked by tiers. Above Erawan's head is the privy seal of King Mongkut, the Great Crown of Victory. An identical gable decoration we find at Wat Suwan Dararam.

The central chedi is in the Sri Lankan style, bell-shaped and painted gold as well. It has a square throne or harmika and the typical Ayutthaya-styled colonnade supporting the spire. Typically, chedis are whitewashed, but because this temple has royal support, I presume it was painted in gold. Several small white chedis surround the main one.

One vihara contains the Buddha image of Phra Phuttha Saiyat or the reclining Buddha in the Preaching to Asurindarahu Posture painted in gold. (1)

The other vihara has the Buddha image called Phra Inplaeng, and the mural paintings on the upper walls present the gathering of Devas, sitting facing the central Buddha. The lower part showed the paintings of Indra, Wat Senasanaram Racha Woravihara and other significant temples. Phra Inplaeng is a bronze Buddha image cast in the Lan Chang art in the attitude of subduing Mara. The image is cross-legged, with a lap width of 2 cubits and a height of 3 cubits 3 inches. The image replaced the initial main Buddha image in the Pa Lelai posture.

Typical for Rama IV’s reign is the placement of the boundary stones demarcating the sacred area of the temple, traditionally surrounding the ordination hall, but now including also the main stupa. King Mongkut saw the corners of the sacred space in a temple (surrounding the ubosot) marked by double plate boundary markers as a problem threatening the purity of the holy area because the two diagonal lines intersecting do not neatly delineate the bounded sacred space. He resolved this by installing boundary stones in a cubic lotus form instead of the double lotus plate marker, as we can see here at Wat Senasanaram. [2]

The Buddha images Phra Inplaeng and Phra Sam Phuttha Muni came from Vientiane. When the Lao rebellion of King Anouvang (reign 1805-1825 CE) from the Kingdom of Vientiane failed, King Rama III ordered the total destruction of Vientiane in 1828 CE. Buddha images, next to other treasures and cultural artefacts, were taken as loot at the fall of Vientiane and carried off to Bangkok. I presume the images mentioned above belonged to that war loot. King Mongkut planned initially to install the Phra Inplaeng at Wat Maha Phruettharam (originally named Wat Tha Khwian) in Bangkok. Still, as its renovation took so long, he decided to install the Buddha image at the new constructed Wat Senasenaram.

The murals inside the ubosot and the vihara date from around 1924 CE in the reign of King Rama V. The monastery houses a pulpit and a teakwood boat, which were given to the monastery as gifts from King Chulalongkorn.

Wat Senasanaram is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 48.35" N, 100° 34' 24.37" E.

Personal note

Wat Senasanaram stands on the site of an older temple called Wat Sua. This temple originally behind the Chandra-kasem Palace was incorporated in the palace grounds when the palace grounds were extended, as a result there is no monastery attached. Wat Senasanaram was built and named by King Mongkut to serve as an adjunct to the new Chandra-Kasem Palace. It was renovated by King Chulalongkorn. [3]

In his booklet ‘Guide to Ayudhya and Bang-Pa-In’ published in 1957 CE, Amatyakul enclosed a map from Ayutthaya with the location of Wat Suea. Wat Suea is the location of Wat Nang or the Monastery of the Hides, as we can find it on a mid-19th century map. Wat Nang is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, and its position was already indicated on Kaempfer’s sketch. [4]

Wat Suea’s name seems to come from the interpretation of a paragraph of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya regarding King Worawongsa (reign 1548 CE). In the paragraph, one of the insurgents, Phiren Thorathep (the later King Thamma Racha), orders Mun Racha Saneha to ambush the Uparat at the Suea Landing (Tha Suea). Racha Saneha, being in hiding, saw the Uparat mount his elephant to ride to the elephant kraal and shot him dead. It was likely deduced from this paragraph that Tha Suea's (Tiger landing) must have been located near a temple called Wat Suea. This Wat Suea, as seen on the 1957 CE map, was believed to be in the vicinity of the residence of the Uparat.

In the evening, Khun Phirenthòrathep ordered Mün Ratchasaneha, who was not in government service, to depart to wait and assault the Uparat at the Süa Landing. ... Meanwhile, Mün Ratchasaneha, who was not in government service, took along a gun to wait in hiding, carrying himself like a boxer of the royal guard. When he saw the Uparat riding on his elephant to go to the corral, Mün Ratchasaneha shot the Uparat off his elephant and killed him. [5]

Only in 1580 CE, the defence walls around the city were extended to the Khu Khue Na, a defensive moat outside the city. The northeastern corner of Ayutthaya’s city island was, until 1580 CE, situated outside the city wall, as the city fortifications were located along the present Khlong Makham Riang. The elephant kraal was not yet in the Phaniat area but closer to the city, near Wat Song (defunct). The defensive moat was widened and linked a passage dug to the Lopburi River in the north, establishing Ayutthaya as a real island.

A new wall was built from the north until the southern point of the city along the old defensive moat. New fortifications were made, such as the Maha Chai, Khwang, Racha Phruek and Phet Fortresses and a Front Palace for the Uparat for defensive purposes. These changes are somehow 30 years AFTER the reign of King Worawongsa. In 1548 CE, there was thus not yet a Front Palace neither a Wat Suea in the northeastern area.

The monastery near Wat Senasanaram was Wat Nang (defunct) mentioned for the first time in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya around 1663 CE. [6]


(1) The most common posture of the reclining Buddha representing his power and wisdom. The legend goes there was a powerful and extremely arrogant demon with a giant body named Asurindarahu. The Buddha wanted to bring this demon to the path of Dhamma. He knew that the demon was so intelligent that he could understand the Dhamma and attain a high enlightenment stage. To subdue this demon’s arrogance, the Buddha transformed himself into a giant form, which would be a hundred times larger than the demon. He then lay down, waiting for the demon whose ego would be subdued. Asurindarahu was humbled and made his obeisance to the Buddha.

(2) The centre line of the 6 April 1875 CE total solar eclipse passed through Bangkok. King Rama V arranged an eclipse observation gathering in front of Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall and organised an eclipse drawing contest. [7]


[1] Tantinipankul, Worrasit (2007). Modernisation and urban monastic space in Rattanakosin city: Comparative study of three royal wats. Cornell University.

[2] Master Thesis, Silpakorn University, 1990.

[3] Amatyakul, Tri (1957). Guide to Ayudhya and Bang-Pa-In. Bangkok: Prachandra Press.

[4] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. pp. 168-9.

[5] Ibid. p. 25.

[6] Ibid. pp. 168-9.

[7] Euarchukiati, Visanu (2021). Exploring the History of Southeast Asian Astronomy. Chapter 8 - The 1875 British Solar Eclipse Expedition to Siam Led by Dr Arthur Schuster. Springer. Edited Orchiston, W & Vahia, Mayank N.