Wat Suwannawat is a restored temple ruin located on Ayutthaya’s city island in Tha Wasukri Sub-district opposite Wat Racha Praditsathan. The ruin sits in the middle of a row of three temples situated between the Tha Kalahom and the Pratu Khao Pluak, Wat Racha Praditsathan on the east side and, Wat Khongkha Wihan on the west side. Wat Suwannawat can be found on the corner of Chikun Road with U Thong Road, near the Maharat Bridge over the City Canal.

The monastery stood north of Elephant Street. The road ran east of the Grand Palace from Pratu Jakromhima (a palace gate) towards Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (1) and the Elephant Bridge (2). Gijsbert Heeck, a Dutchman visiting Ayutthaya in 1655 CE, wrote that both sides of this street had nothing but elephant houses, brick-built with strong wooden stalls, most standing in duplex. Still, some are very long buildings in which many elephants could be housed together. The elephant stables appear on many maps and painting as those of Vingboons 1665 CE, de Courtaulin 1686 CE, and de La Loubère 1691 CE. [1]


Though there is no record of the temple’s establishment in old records, neither is any history, the style of Wat Suwannawat suggests the middle Ayutthaya period, and there were traces of restoration in the late Ayutthaya period.

During the Burmese attack of Ayutthaya in 1766 CE, the monastery was damaged by a fire that spread from Wat Tha Sai across the canal and further south to Wat Chatthan (defunct).

When it was the first month of the year of the dog, eighth of the decade, in the evening, a fire broke out at Sand Landing, burned and spread in to the Bridge of the Elephants, and came across and ignited the Coconut Forest, the Thon Forest, the Charcoal Forest, the Flame Tree Forest, the Grass Forest, all the way to the Monastery of the Royal Repairs and the Monastery of the Holy Grand Reliquary. The fire continued and stopped only at the Monastery of Chatthan. [2]

The monastery was reinstated somewhere in the early Rattanakosin period in the reign of King Mongkut (1851-1868 CE) and was abandoned again around 1920 CE. I presume the monks of Wat Suwannawat moved to the newly constructed ordination hall of Wat Racha Praditsathan in 1917 CE.


The present site has two main monastic structures: an ordination hall and a vihara. Both structures have a main chedi to the west. There are also some minor chedis and a bell tower. Wat Suwannawat was aligned on an east-west axis facing Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (defunct). The Chikun Road runs through the former premises of the temple (see personal note below). Excavations at this site uncovered a Chinese-style image of a Buddha preaching dating back to the Ming Dynasty (16th-17th CE). The Chao Sam Phraya Museum has this marble image presently on display.

Wat Suwannawat on maps

Wat Suwannawat shows on Kaempfer’s sketch. Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716 CE) was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE. The temple is situated on the west bank of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak, close to the northern city wall. The depiction of the monastery is difficult to discern, but we can see a chedi on the left side of the path leading to the temple(s). Opposite the canal, we find the chedi of Wat Tha Sai. Elephant Road and Bridge are depicted clearly.

The monastery does not appear on Bellin’s map, ‘Plan De La Ville De Siam’, although the two bastions along the Khao Pluak canal can be seen. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE) was one of the most important cartographers of the 18th century.

Wat Suwannawat is indicated on a map drafted in the 19th century by an unknown surveyor. The map denominates the temple also as Wat Klang and shows the presence of three chedis. The name of Wat Klang presumably relates to its central position between Wat Racha Praditsathan and Wat Khongkha Phihan (alt. Wihan). The drawing shows a chedi to the east of the monastic structure. If it existed, its foundations must now lay under the Chikun Road.

The temple is on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map of 1926 CE in an identical position as the 19th-century map. Phraya Boran (1871-1936 CE) was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE.

The restored ruin of Wat Suwannawat is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 43.15"N, 100° 34' 4.53" E.

Personal note:

The present ordination hall of Wat Racha Praditsathan was established in 1917 CE, and in my opinion, the monastic structures of Wat Suwannawat were part of the monastery. The buildings of Wat Suwannawat are aligned on an east-west axis. An identical east-west alignment we find at Wat Thai Sa, opposite Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak. The present ordination hall has a rare north-south alignment and is opposed to the directions of Wat Suwannawat and Wat Tha Sai. On Kaempfer’s sketch, the Chikun Road stops at the intersection with the Map Phrao Road (former Elephant Street), and from the crossing, only a path leads to the monastery. The construction of the Maharat Bridge over Khlong Mueang and the Maharat Road in the 20th century has cut through the temple complex. I believe, as this monastery figures several times in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya as a royal retreat, that the premises of Wat Racha Praditsathan were not confined only to the small space on the west bank of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak but also included the structures of Wat Suwannawat. Wat Suwannawat, in my opinion, never existed.


(1) Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak, or the ‘Canal of the Gate of Unmilled Rice’, was part of a waterway running through the middle of Ayutthaya from north to south. The canal, a shortcut in the oxbow of the Lopburi River, ran until the Chikun Bridge and continued to the Chinese water gate (Pratu Jin).

(2) The most northern bridge on Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak was Saphan Chang or the "Elephant Bridge", connecting both sides of Elephant Street. The bridge was made of laterite (sila laeng). The foundations of this bridge were dismantled in the reign of Rama III, and the laterite was brought to Bangkok to be used for the foundations of the chedi of Wat Sakae (present Wat Saket) in Bangkok.


[1] Terwiel, Barend Jan (2008) - A Traveler in Siam in the Year 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck - Silkworm Books.

[2] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 514 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Reverend Phonnarat - Phræ Deserts the Burmese Forces.

Groundplan of Wat Suwannawat

Reference: Krom Sinlapakorn (1968), Phra Rachawang lae Wat Boran nai Jangwat Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya (Fine Arts Department).

No.1: A minor chedi with an octagonal base. The diameter of the base is 3 metres.

No.2: The ordination hall is surrounded by a brick wall. The wall is 18.60 metres long and 13 meters wide. A stairway leads up to the east in the middle and on the northwest and south side of the stairs. In the ubosot is a pedestal that enshrined a bronze Buddha image. It had a lap width of 3 metres and was 4.20 metres high (the bronze part that remains only the head of the village people renovated the Buddha with brick-and-mortar, but a part of the original lap has been preserved at the Chan Kasem National Museum).

No. 3: The bell tower is located on a square base, 3.80 meters wide, with oval niches in the four directions. There are openings on all four sides, just like a bell tower in general. It is understood the bell tower is new.

No. 4: The large stupa on the west side of the ubosot is a chedi in the Sri Lankan style, standing on a square platform, having 10 meters in diameter.

No. 5: A minor chedi located on a square base, 6.80 metres wide and a dome in Sri Lankan style. There is a staircase leading up to the base in the east, which is slightly damaged.

No. 6: A chedi built on an octagonal base followed by a drum in four graduated stages to reach the mouth of the bell. A round bell-shaped body to the throne. The tapering conical spire and knob are damaged. The base has a diameter of 7.70 metres.

No. 7: The vihara is 21 metres long and 9.50 metres wide. Inside is a pedestal that enshrined a Buddha image made of brick-and-mortar, with a lap width of 2.50 metres and a height of 3.50 metres. The head and the Buddha image, both left and right sides, are damaged. There is one door leading to the building on the east.

No. 8: The large chedi on the west side of the vihara is built on an octagonal base. The drum consists of four stages before arriving at the dome. The throne is octagonal. The diameter of the pagoda is 10 metres.

No. 9: A pool of which just remains a gutter, which may have been the original pond. Soil has been dug to fill the marshy area or to make an embankment in recent times.