Wat Thammikarat, or the Monastery of the Royal Dharma, is a restored ruin and an active temple located on the city island in Tha Wasukri Sub-district along U-Thong Road. It is part of the Ayutthaya Historical Park and situated east of the Grand Palace, west of Wat Yan Sen, north of Bueng Phra Ram and south of Khlong Mueang, the former Lopburi River.


Wat Thammikarat is said to pre-date the establishment of Ayutthaya by King U-Thong in 1351 CE. The same is said of - for example - Wat Phanan Choeng, which dates back to 1324 CE. Derick Garnier points out that "Archaeologists have found traces of a pre-12th century Dvaravati town on and below the island of Wat Khun Muang Chai, Wat Maha That, and Tambon Bang Kracha." [1]. We cannot deny that upon his arrival in the region around 1347-48 CE, some three years before the so-called founding of Ayutthaya, Prince U Thong ended up or clashed with a community that had lived here for already many years. Wat Thammikarat figures in the legend of King Sai Nam Phueng, the beholder of two white elephants and the ruler of Ayodhya, a Khmer settlement and the legendary forerunner of Ayutthaya. The Northern Thai chronicle states that Phraya Thammikarat, the son of King Sai Nam Phueng, “constructed this monastery, and so it was [later] named after him.” Wat Thammikarat was initially called Wat Mukharat (วัดมุขราช). The style of the temple is from the early Ayutthaya period. [2]

The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mentions this monastery in the year 1548 CE. Prince Si Sin was the younger brother of King Yot Fa (reign 1547-1548 CE) and a son of King Chairacha (reign 1534-1547 CE). The rebellious nobility spared his life in the ambush of the usurper king Worawongsa (reign 1548) and Queen Si Sudachan on Khlong Sra Bua. King Chakkraphat sent Prince Si Sin in 1544 to the Ratcha Praditsathan Monastery to become a novice at the age of 14. Growing up, he felt he was entitled to the throne, gathered followers and rebelled. King Chakkraphat, informed of Prince Si Sin’s rebellion, placed the prince under guard at Wat Thammikkarat. In 1561, the king decided that prince Si Sin was old enough to be ordained as a monk. Si Sin, probably informed, escaped his guard at Wat Thammikarat and fled to Mueang Mot Daeng (Suphan Buri?). He sent somebody to the abbot of Wat Pa Kaeo (present Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon) to request an auspicious moment to dethrone King Chakkraphat. Prince Si Sin and his followers entered the city of Ayutthaya via the Tower of the Jewels of Victory Gate. Chao Phraya Maha Sena (Luang Si Yot) tried to stop the prince on his way to the palace but was beaten in a battle on elephant back. Prince Si Sin and his men entered the Grand Palace via the Victory Flagstaff Gate. King Chakkraphat fled on a royal barge to Maha Phram while his sons and ministers fought in the palace. The battle was over after Prince Si Sin was shot dead. King Chakkraphat returned to the royal palace and had all the people involved in the rebellion executed, including the abbot of Wat Pa Kaeo and their bodies impaled at the public execution ground along with the corpse of Prince Si Sin.

In 906, a year of the dragon, sixth of the decade, the younger brother of King Yòt Fa, Prince Si Sin, whom King Cakkraphat had spared and raised until he was thirteen or fourteen years old and had then sent him out to become a novice at Ratchapraditsathan Monastery, was ungrateful for what had been done for him, gathered followers and plotted treason. When the King learned of this he ordered Caophraya Maha Sena to have Prince Si Sin brought in for questioning, and although the truth came out, he was not put to death. The King merely had him placed under guard at Thammikkarat Monastery, his gaoler being Mün Ca Yuat. [3]

When King Borommakot died on 29 April 1758 CE after having ruled 25 years, three illegitimate sons (born from a concubine, not a queen) covertly gained support from many officials and secured their ground in the palace in an attempt to take power. The Maha Uparat (1) invited five patriarchs from various important monasteries to exert their influence to prevent a civil war. One of these influential monks was Phra Thamma Khodom of Wat Thammikarat.

During the evening of that day, five members of the Holy Royal Synod, namely, Reverend Tham Khodom of the Monastery of the Pious King for one, the Reverend Tham Cedi of the Monastery of the Crown Garden of the Corpse of Heaven for one, the Reverend Phuttha Khosacan of the Monastery of the Omnipotence of the Buddha for one, the Reverend Thep Muni of the Monastery of the Star Dormitories for one, and the Reverend Thep Krawi of the Monastery of the Temple of the Holy Rama for one—that Reverend Thep Muni, however, had passed through many more monsoons than the others—came in and assembled together at the Clerics’ Annex. When it was approximately a little after one thum, a holy command was issued to send someone to invite them to go into the Holy Residence of the Rabbit Garden. The Deputy King requested all five members of the Holy Royal Synod, with Reverend Thep Muni as their principal, to go, remonstrate with, and console the lords of the three departments and have them come to unite willingly and assemble in a spirit of harmony with each other in obedience to the holy royal advice Their Father had charged Them with. Now all five of the Holy Royal Synod went to negotiate with Them and returned by two thum. Finally, at a little after three yam in the dead of night, shortly before dawn, the lords of the three departments thereupon came for an audience and all three of Their Holinesses pledged Their loyalty to the Deputy King. [4]


Wat Thammikarat was restored during the late Ayutthaya period. The monastery was severely damaged by fire during the second fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767. The old monastic buildings were restored in the 20th century. The monastery has five important structures on its premises being, an ordination hall, a royal vihara, a chedi, a smaller vihara and a vihara with a reclining Buddha. Next to these main structures are several satellite chedis spread over the site.

The Royal vihara or sermon hall is an impressive structure, the size of which is 19 x 53 metres. There are large columns inside this vihara formerly supporting the roof, which are still intact. Large porticos exist on the eastern and the western sides, including the staircase and entrances.

Opposite the Royal vihara is a large bell-shaped chedi on an octagonal base of which the upper part has fallen. The stupa stands on a square platform accessible by stairs and surrounded by 52 Khmer lions in the Bayon-style, 13 figures for each side. The lions are made of brick-and-mortar and decorated with elaborately detailed stucco. A similar architectural structure with lion figures can be found at Wat Mae Nang Plum and was likely influenced by Sukhothai architecture. [5] The chedi could have been built in the reign of King Prasat Thong when Khmer-art became fashion again. [6]

The square platform was accessed by small naga stairs on three sides, while on the east side stood a small walled chedi. The actual chedi was built over a similar bell-shaped chedi dating back to the early Ayutthaya period. Wat Thammikarat is aligned east-west, but there is something atypical. in particular, the chedi stands east of the vihara instead of west.

The origins of the Khmer lion go back to the Middle East, particularly to Persia, where the lion was associated with kingship, a connection brought to India in the third century BCE by King Ashoka (c.268-c.232 BCE). The association of kingship with the strength and might of the lion made the latter a prized effigy in both temples and palaces as a symbol of protection and prosperity. Within the context of Buddhism, the lion had also a meaning, as the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, was of the lion (Shakya) clan. We already see this element appearing in the pre-Angkor sites of Sambor Prei Kuk and Koh Ker and later in the Angkor Khmer empire. Lions guarded the entranceways of the earliest Khmer temples, while freestanding lions demarcated sacred ground. It is probably here that the Siamese found their inspiration. [7]

The sermon hall situated to the north of the Royal sermon hall is a rectangular structure built with brick-and-mortar. At present, only the foundations remain visible. Inside the vihara, on the east, are pillars and a brick base where the main Buddha image was placed. The Fine Arts Department installed a replica of the giant bronze head, which Phraya Boran Ratchathanin excavated here.

We read in the old documents that a vihara of Wat Thammikarat housed a bronze Buddha image seated in meditation called Phra Phuttha Khanthanrat with a span across the lap of 45 centimetres (1 cubit). The image was one of the nine important Buddha images of Ayutthaya. The image brought by water from the south had a tremendous Buddhist potency, including the ability to summon rain. Whether it stood in the northern vihara or the royal vihara is unclear. [8]

South of the Royal vihara stands the ubosot, of which the east and west walls remained at the end of the 19th century. In the Rattanakosin period, probably at a time when monks returned to this monastery, a Buddha image was installed, and the structure was covered by a galvanised roof. Last century this building was renovated.

Wat Thammikarat also has a small vihara that enshrines a reclining Buddha in the Attitude of Teaching Asurindarahu (eyes open, left arm along the body, right arm serves as a pillow, the hand supporting the head). The image builf of bricks and cement is 12 meters long and is one of the important reclining Buddhas of Central Thailand. The legend goes there was a powerful and arrogant demon with a giant body called Asurindarahu.

The Buddha would like 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 stage of enlightenment. To subdue the demon’s arrogance, the Buddha decided to transform himself into a giant form, a hundred times larger than the demon. He then lay down waiting for the demon whose ego would be subdued. The giant Asurindarahu wanted to see the Buddha but was reluctant to bow before him. The Buddha then showed him the realm of heaven with heavenly figures all larger than the giant. After all this, Asurindarahu was humbled and made his obeisance to the Buddha before leaving.

Near the monastery were horse stables. Stables for fifty post-horses were situated from the corner of Wat Thammikarat up close to the Jakra Mahima Gate, the most northern gate on the palace’s east wall. Three stables for thirty inner procession horses, one horse per stall, continue beyond up to the wall of Wat Thammikarat. South and adjacent to Wat Thammikarat was the Suphachai Phaeng Kasem Court. [9]

At the corner of Wat Thammikarat by the wall bordering the parade ground in front of the Jakkrawat Phichaiyon audience hall was a checkpoint. A storehouse for tack for war horses was beside the wall of the monastery. [10]

Wat Thammikarat on maps

I believe Wat Thammikarat shows in the Iudea painting and the Afbeldinge Der Stadt Iudiad Hooft Des Choonnicrick Siam drawing of the Dutch cartographer and watercolourist Johannes Vingboons (1616-1670 CE). He based his watercolour paintings and maps on reports and sketches made by sailors and merchants on their travels under the orders of the Dutch East India Company. These paintings would be the earliest depiction of the monastery. In both paintings, the temple is shown with a prang and two chedis. The longhouse to the west of the temple shows the horse stables east of the palace wall along Bang Tra Road. The elephant stables are indicated along the road to its east.

The next maps and sketches showing Wat Thammikarat are those of Englebert Kaempfer, a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), who visited and surveyed Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE. The Sri Chai Sak Gate opposite the temple, as well as the horse stables, are visible.

The monastery is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 32.65" N, 100° 33' 42.18" E.


(1) Chaofa Uthumphon was the Maha Uparat after Chaofa Tham Thibet's execution in 1755 CE for adultery with two princesses of the King's Court. The three illegitimate sons were Phra Ong Chao Mongkhut (Krom Mun Chit Sunthon), Phra Ong Chao Rot (Krom Mun Sunthon Thep), and Phra Ong Chao Pan (Krom Mun Sep Phakdi). When Uthumphon succeeded to the throne, he had his three half-brothers executed on rebellion charges.


[1] Garnier, Derick (2004). Ayutthaya: Venice of the East. Bangkok, River Books.
[2] Tourism Authority of Thailand (1988). Master Plan for Tourism Development of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the Neighbouring Provinces.
[3] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p.42. Rebellion of Prince Si Sin, 1561.
[4] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p.464 / King Uthumphon, April 13, 1758-May 1758.
[5] Poomkrachang, Navarat. The analysis of main stupa pattern and surround Singh base of Wat Dhammikaraj, Ayutthaya province.
[6] Kasetsiri, Charnvit Wright, Michael (2007). Discovering Ayutthaya. Toyota Thailand Foundation. p.97.
[7] The Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas at the Dallas Museum of Art - Published on Dec 12, 2013. p.214.
[8] Pongsripian, Vinai, Dr. (2007). Phanna phumisathan Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya: Ekasan jak Ho Luang. Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace. Bangkok, Usakane. p.106.
[9] Baker, Chris (2014) - Final Part of the Description of Ayutthaya with Remarks on Defense, Policing, Infrastructure, and Sacred Sites. Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 102.
[10] Baker, Chris (2013). The Grand Palace in the Description of Ayutthaya: Translation and Commentary. Journal of the Siam Society, Vol 101.


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

No 1: The entrance to the temple on the north side next to U Thong Road. This gate is built in (year not readable) along with building reinforced concrete fences. It is a gate 2 meters wide that connects the road to the temple.
No 2: The pond is an old pond made of brick around 13 meters wide, about 12.50 meters from the fence on the north. Still able to use this pond for water consumption.
No 3: A pavilion with a roof of terracotta tiles is next to the pond facing west. The floor made of teak wood is 17.50 meters wide and 27 meters long. Sermons and other ceremonies took here place.
No 4: An old pavilion 10 meters wide is situated in the middle of the road leading to the temple.
No 5: A vihara completely broken, leaving only the foundations 15 metres wide and 46 metres long. A new small square pagoda with niches on the four sides is located on the mound to the west, 7 metres wide.
No 6: The Royal vihara is a large building with an inner wall of 33 metres wide and 80 metres long. The vihara is 19 meters wide and 53 meters long, with eight metres-wide porches protruding in the front and back. There were three doors in the front and the back. The central door was 2.80 meters wide and 3.10 meters high. The side doors were 1.87 meters wide and 3.12 meters high. Inside the vihara, there were two rows of 10 round brick columns. Currently, all four walls and only nine columns remain from the Ayutthaya period. The Ayutthaya kings came to regularly listen to the sermons on the Buddhist Observance Date (Uposatha days). They accessed the temple premises through the Sri Chai Sak Gate (Gate of Auspicious and Mighty Victory). This temple used to house an important Buddha image. Phraya Boran Rachathanin has preserved the head on the balcony beside the wall of Chandrakasem Palace on the east side. It is a beautiful bronze Buddha head in the U-Thong style, approximately 1.80 metres tall and 1.40 metres wide.
No 7: The ubosot is south of the Royal vihara. It is surrounded by an inner wall of 19 metres wide and 39.50 metres long, 77 cm high, and 59 cm thick. It has boundary stones of 78 cm high and 29 cm wide, incorporated into the surrounding wall. The ordination hall itself is 8.50 metres wide and 24.50 metres long. Currently remains a three roof covering a stucco principal Buddha image of the Ratanakosin period with a lap of 3.29 metres wide and the east and west walls of the temple hall. On the eastern wall are coloured Jataka paintings at the hands of Master Khae.
No 8: A chedi standing in front of the Royal vihara about 14 meters from the surrounding wall. The pagoda base is 23 meters long on each side. There are staircases on all four sides and stucco lions sitting around the base of the chedi the bodies are damaged and broken. It is a sizeable bell-shaped chedi from the Ayutthaya period of 14 meters in diameter.
No 9: Chedi, in front of a large chedi surrounded by walls of 15 metres. The east wall is 20 metres. It is a small chedi, newly renovated.
No. 10: The vihara of the Reclining Buddha is situated on the north side of the large chedi about 25 meters apart. The building is 11 metres wide and 20 metres long, and the roof has clay tiles. There are only three doors at the rear (Buddha's feet). The central door is 1.50 meters wide and 2.57 meters high, while the side doors are 1.25 metres wide and 2.15 metres high. There are slit windows in the wall. This vihara was renovated in 1949. Inside, there is a reclining Buddha image made of brick and cement dating back to the Ayutthaya period. The Buddha faces north and is 12 metres long. At the foot of the Buddha image is a Buddha footprint adorned with thin golden leaves and decorated glass pieces.
No. 11: A total of 5 small angled chedis near the vihara of the reclining Buddha.
No.12: Three grouped small angled chedis, 25 meters to the south of the main chedi.
No. 13: A damaged old door with a width of two metres on the east side next to the School of woodworking, Ayutthaya Province (today Ayutthaya Technical College).