WAT SRI PHO (1)





Wat Sri Pho, or the Monastery of the Magnificent Bodhi Tree, was located off the city island in the northern area, in Khlong Sra Bua Sub-district. The temple was situated on the west bank of Khlong Sra Bua (1) in a field called Thung Khwan (2). Wat Phrom Kalayaram stood in the north, Wat Phra Ngam in the west and Wat Khai Wua in the south. Wat Bailo and Wat Klang lie on the opposite side of the Sra Bua canal.


Following an inscription inside the new ordination hall (left wall), a certain Thao Phrom Kankhan built this temple in 1749 CE during King Borommakot's reign (1733-1758 CE). The temple officially received the bai sema or boundary stones in 1757 CE. The temple site, together with Wat Phra Kalayaram, was occupied by the Burmese army in the last Burmese-Ayutthaya war of 1766-1767 CE. The story goes that many Burmese soldiers were killed on the site due to heavy cannon fire from the city. The temple was left void of Buddhist clergy after the war.


Wat Sri Pho and the adjacent Wat Phra Kalayaram were fused in 1942 CE. A new ordination hall was built on the ruins of the old ubosot of Wat Phra Kalayaram, and the whole complex received the name Wat Mai Sri Pho (the word "Mai" means "new").





The ubosot or ordination hall is built in a mixed late Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin style. The roof is three-tiered, while the extended roof over the elevated porches is two-tiered. Two entries can access the hall on the west and east sides. The north and south sides have five windows. The inside walls of the hall are nicely painted with the "Jataka" tales (3).

In the ubosot are magnificent old Buddha statues dating from the Lopburi, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods. A chedi stands in front of the ubosot instead of being positioned at the west of the hall. The chedi was likely a restored satellite chedi of Wat Phrom Kalayaram the original probably vanished with time. Wat Mai Sri Pho has a pretty large surface, indicating the former merging of Wat Sri Pho and Wat Phrom Kalayaram.

The site is mentioned on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE and located in geographical coordinates: 14° 22' 12.31" N, 100° 33' 27.65" E.
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Sra Bua, or the Lilly Pond Canal, is a canal situated in the northern area, off the city island, in the Khlong Sra Bua District. The waterway splits from Khlong Hua Ro between Wat Ngiu (defunct) and Wat Si Liam. The canal has its mouth at the City Canal (Khlong Mueang) between Wat Na Phra Men and Wat Mai in front of the northeastern corner of the Grand Palace. The canal was a shortcut in the old Lopburi River.(2) Thung Khwan or "Field of Fumes" is an area north of the city of Ayutthaya bordered on the north by Thung Lum Phli, on the east by Khlong Sra Bua and Thung Kaeo, in the south by the old Lopburi River and in the west by Thung Phukhao Thong.(3) The Jataka tales (Th: chadok) refer to a voluminous collection of folklore-like literature native to India concerning the previous incarnations of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, both in human and animal form. The tales were originally written in Pali and dated between 300 BC and 400 CE. The canonical book comprises 547 poems, arranged roughly by an increasing number of verses. Many tales are set in or near Benares (Varanasi), a city in north central India on the Ganges River. One of the world's oldest cities, Varanasi, is the most sacred place for Hindus. Buddhists and Muslims also have important religious sites nearby. According to tradition, Buddha began his teachings at Sarnath, a short distance from this city.