Wat Tum is located off the city island in the northeastern area of Ayutthaya, in the Wat Tum Sub-district. The monastery is situated on the south bank of Khlong Wat Tum, a canal which had its mouth at the old Lopburi River and can be reached via Road No 309, linking Ayutthaya with Ang Thong. The temple is still in use by the Buddhist clergy and covers an area of approximately 15 rai.

Wat Tum was located in an oxbow of the old Lopburi River, the same as Wat Chumphon and Wat Chang Yai. A shortcut was dug in the Ayutthaya era - a source suggested King Borommakot (reign 1733-1758 CE) - through this loop and was named Khlong Bang Khuat. The present Khlong Tum was thus a part of the old Lopburi River.

Wat Tum lies south of Wat Chumphon, Wat Chang Yai and Wat Chang Noi, three temples related to warfare, where in its vicinities, war elephants were trained, and troops were gathered before going into battle. Some sources state that King Naresuan held the ceremony of 'Drinking of the Water of Allegiance' at this temple, a significant ancient rite. (1)

The ceremony of "Drinking of the Water of Allegiance" was one of the most important Ayutthayan state ceremonies from the point of view of the upkeep of the established form of government. It was a ceremony derived from the Khmers, which performed this kind of activity in the 10th-11th century CE following engravings found on regular bases. During the Rattanakosin period, the rite took place twice yearly, on the third day of the waxing of the fifth month (Chaitra) and the thirteenth day of the waning of the tenth month (Bhadrapada), in the Chapel Royal in Bangkok as in one temple in each seat of the provincial government. The Ceremony of Drinking the Water of Allegiance in the Ayutthaya period was the same as what was followed in Bangkok from the reign of Rama I onwards. Horace Wales described the rite as follows:

"The water is previously hallowed in the usual way by the monks, who recite mantras, the sacred "sincana" thread being stretched round the water vessels, while the Court Brahmans also dip into the water the State Sword and other royal weapons, this being a rite of contagious magic, by the power of which any official meditating treason would be destroyed. It is said that persons have not infrequently in the past died of cholera after drinking the hallowed water, a result which no doubt did much to strengthen the general belief in the efficacy of the magic. On the day of the ceremony a Brahman reads out the Oath [of Allegiance] and each official must drink the contents of a small cup, which he must drain to the last drop. Any appearance of difficulty in swallowing was, in the old days, considered as equivalent to an admission of disloyalty. The ladies of the palace, as well as members of the royal family, drink the Water of Allegiance but, of course, with suitable privacy. Officials confined to their houses through illness are not excused from drinking the Water, but it is taken to their bedsides by royal pages or other officials." [1]

Simon de La Loubère (1642-1729 CE) mentions this Oath of Allegiance in his work "A new Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam", published in 1691 CE: "The Form of the Oath of Fidelity consists in swallowing the water, over which the Talapoins do pronounce some Imprecations against him, who is to drink it, in case he fails in the Fidelity which he owes to his King." [2]

There is no record of when and by whom the temple was built, but a brochure of the Fine Arts Department states that this temple was constructed before the establishment of Ayutthaya in 1351 CE. [3]

The monastery was severely damaged during the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE. The site was not looked after until the early Rattanakosin period during the reign of King Rama I (1782-1809 CE). When Siam recovered slowly from its wounds of the war with Burma, the temple was restored and occupied by monks. During the reign of King Mongkut (1851-1868 CE), the monastery received royal patronage, and since then, the Royal Standard has been flown.

In situ are multiple monastic structures from recent times. The old ordination hall, or ubosot, was built in the early Ayutthaya style and has recently been restored. It has a two-tiered roof and an elevated porch with four columns supporting the porch's roof. There is one door in the front and two in the rear. The walls have three windows on each side. The base is straight. The stupa on the west side is a twelve rabbeted-angled chedi. There are a bell-shaped chedi and satellite chedis on the premises. The inner wall has four entries in the cardinal directions.

The ubosot houses an amazing Buddha image called “Luang Pho Thong Suk Samrit” of unknown origin. It is a bronze-crowned and bejewelled image of a seated Buddha in the gesture of subduing Mara, measuring 87 cm in width and 1.5 m in height. The cranial part of the head can be lifted. The head is hollow and contains water, formed naturally in the image's head. Since old times, Thai people have come from far away to take a sip of the holy water, which is believed to have healing capacities.

The temple was the location of a ceremony held to inscribe sacred scripts on the ‘Thong Chai Chalermphol’ (ธงชัยเฉลิมพล) or the ‘Victory Colours’ (flag) given to troops of Siamese Expeditionary Forces who fought in World War I.

(Victory Colours at the Brussels War Museum - Source: brusselspictures.com/wp-content/photos/WWI-uniforms/WWI-Siam.jpg)

The temple was registered by the Department of Fine Arts as a historic site in 1934 CE and is one of 108 sources of sacred water across the country.

Wat Tum is classified as a third-class Royal temple of the 3rd grade (without suffix) following a ranking system for royal temples initiated in 1913. [4]

On 6 April 2019 CE, a ceremony was held at Wat Tum to gather and prepare sacred water for the Royal Coronation ceremony of King Rama X, presided by the Governor of Phra Sri Nakhon Ayutthaya, Mr Suchin Chaiyumsak. The earliest process was to collect waters from different important sources and then consecrate and combine them for use in the Royal Purification and Anointment Ceremonies during the Royal Coronation Ceremony. The governor scooped the sacred water from the open skull of the Buddha image Luang Pho Thong Suk Samrit during a special Brahman rite. The holy water was then put to rest at the temple, awaiting the consecration rites on 9 April 2019 at Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. After the consecration rites, the sacred water of Wat Tum was transferred to the Ministry of Interior in Bangkok. On 18 April 2019, the waters from 76 provinces and Bangkok were combined and taken from the Ministry of Interior to go through another consecration rite at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam, to be taken to the ordination hall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram) the next day to be used in the coronation ceremonies of 4-6 May 2019. [5]

Wat Tum is in geographical coordinates: 14° 23' 18.95" N, 100° 32' 11.37" E.


(1) Likely, the ceremony held here was not the "Drinking of the Water of Allegiance" but the pre-battle rite of "Cutting the wood which corresponds with the name of the enemy".


[1] Quaritch Wales, H.G. (1931). Siamese State Ceremonies. Their history and function. London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd. pp. 193-6.

[2] Loubère, Simon (de la) (1693). A new Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam (2 Tomes). London. Edited by John Villiers. Bangkok: White Lotus, 1986. p 81.

[3] Ayutthaya Historical Park - Fine Arts Department (2003).

[4] Website dhammathai.org/watthai/listroyalwat1.php - data retrieved 14 Dec 2009.

[5] Website Bangkok Post - data retrieved 1 April 2019.