Wat Wang Chai, or the Chai Palace Monastery as it is translated by Cushman [1], is located on the city island in the northwestern area in the Pratu Chai Sub-district. The restored ruin lies on the edge of the Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin Park and is part of the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The temple was situated west of Wat Luang Chi Krut, east of Wat Pho Pheuak, north of Pom Wang Chai, the fortress overlooking Khlong Takhian and south of Wat Hoi Khong. Most of these locations are defunct today.


Prince Thianracha, before ascending the throne as King Chakkraphat (reign 1548-1569 CE), had his residence in this area. On ascending the throne and having the Grand Palace as his new living place, he ordered his former estate to be transferred into a recitation hall and built an additional ordination hall. The temple was given the name Wat Wang Chai, which I would instead translate as the “Monastery of the Palace of Victory”. The abbot of this temple was given the name Reverend Nikrom. King Chakkraphat gave the Pa Than, Pa Thon and Pa Chomphu areas in the city as the places where the monks of this temple could roam for alms, as he went for alms there during his stay at Wat Racha Praditsathan before his Kingship and these areas where on his tax roll. It must have been quite an early morning walking exercise for the monks as these areas were located on the other side of the city. Thus, the temple must have been established around 1549 CE or 2092 BE. (1)

"Then His Majesty the King had the walls of the Capital, which were ruined and dilapidated, repaired and made strong and durable all the way around. Then he had established what had been his original palace as a holy recitation hall, built a holy preaching hall and gardens for a monastery, and bestowed on it the name of Chai Palace Monastery. To its abbot he gave the title of Reverend Nikrom. Then the King said, “When we were in the monkhood, we went gathering alms up to Thon Forest and Than Forest, and up as far as Chomphu Forest. I would have the monks and novices of Chai Palace Monastery, for their food and rice, go to beg for the revenues from these areas which are entered on the royal tax rolls as belonging to the King." [1]

The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention the monastery again in the year 1568 CE when King Maha Chakkraphat started to make preparations for the defence of Ayutthaya against the King of Hongsawadi. The latter came in with his elephants, horses and troops by way of Kamphaengphet.

"On the other three sides: the Phraya Khlang was the commanding officer of the forces from inside the stockades to the Chai Gate, Phra Insa Nakhòn Ban was the commanding officer of the forces from the Chai Gate to the Chai Palace, Phra Thai Nam was the commanding officer of the forces from the Chai Palace corner to the Chi Khan Gate, Phraya Si Ratchadecho was the commanding officer of the forces from the Chi Khan Gate to the King’s Court corner, and Phraya Thamma was the commanding officer in charge of all the palace troops who guarded the positions from the King’s Court corner to the Royal Palace and from the Royal Palace to the front ramparts." [2]

The area in which this temple ruin is located was before important, as most of the palace officials and essential persons were living on both sides of the Chao Phraya River between Wat Phutthaisawan and Wat Chai Watthanaram.

There was an important ferry (Tha Wang Chai) near the monastery linking the city island with the landing at the mouth of the Takhian canal.

The monastery has been restored many times. Excavations indicated that the ordination hall had been redone at least three times. New brick building techniques have been used on the main chedi. The Fine Arts Department overhauled the site entirely. The sema stones found here were identical to the boundary stones of Wat Ratcha Burana and Wat Maha That, only differing in size, the sema’s here being smaller. [3]

In 1968, the Fine Arts Department removed the heads of several sandstone Buddha images from the Ayutthaya period and preserved them at the Chandrakasem National Museum to prevent criminals from stealing them. [4]


In situ is a large ordination hall with a chedi on its west side aligned on the classical east-west axis. On its north side stands a vihara with satellite chedis and other monastic structures.

The whole is surrounded by an outer wall called Kamphaeng Kaeo or Crystal wall, separating the sacred world from the secular hustle and bustle outside.

The remnants of the main chedi rest on a square platform, while its base is triple octagonal representing, the three worlds or the Trai Phum. The three worlds are the sensual worlds, the form world, and the formless world, forming the Buddhist cosmology. The octagonal shape of the base stands for the four cardinal and the four inter-cardinal directions.

The monastic area was surrounded by a moat, isolating the monastery from the lay world. On the Fine Arts Department map of 2007 CE, we find a structure called Wat Pho Phueak 4 to the west of the main chedi. Considering that the brick-and-mortar foundations are situated within the moated area, this construction must have been part of Wat Wang Chai.

The road in front of Wat Wang Chai was called Victory Palace Road and was known for its smiths making brass bowls. There was also a fresh market in the area called Victory Palace Market (Talat Wang Chai). [5]

Wat Wang Chai is not indicated on Englebert Kaempfer’s sketch or map (Kaempfer did not walk that part of the island), but I believe the map of Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE) drawn around 1750 CE shows the monastery.

Wat Wang Chai shows on a mid-19th century map in the same position as Phraya Boran Rachathanin does on his 1926 map (วัดวังไชย), but is here denominated as Khlang Wang Chai (คลังวังไชย).

The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 20' 31.33" N, 100° 32' 56.27" E.


(1) I give here the Buddhist Era as Reference [2] put the monastery’s construction at 2073 BE. The different versions of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya mention its establishment in the year 911 of the Chula Sakarat Era, the Burmese Calendar in use at that time. Anno Domini (AD) can be calculated by adding 638 years.


[1] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p. 28 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph. Elephants, Construction, and Rituals, 1549-1550.
[2] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p. 60 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong, Royal Autograph & Thonburi fragment (1779) Khurusapha (1963). Hongsawadi Sends Forth its Armies.
[3] Fine Arts Department (2003) Ayutthaya Historical Park. p. 66.
[4] Krom Sinlapakorn (1968), Phra Rachawang lae Wat Boran nai Jangwat Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya (Fine Arts Department).
[5] Baker, Chris (2011) - Before Ayutthaya Fell: Economic Life in an Industrious Society. Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya. Journal of the Siam Society. Vol. 99. p. 66.

The Ground Plan of Wat Wang Chai

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

No. 1: The road to the temple is 4 metres wide, 43.50 metres long and separated from U Thong Road.

No. 2: The outer wall is a brick wall with a thickness of about 60 cm, a width of 63 metres and 95 metres long on each side, damaged and broken, leaving only the foundation.

No. 3: The pagoda wall is brick-and-mortar, approximately 50 cm thick, 27 m long on each side, damaged and broken, leaving only the foundation.

No. 4: Chedis located in four corners constructed in brick-and-mortar. The chedis have a bell-shaped drum on an octagonal base, 6.50 meters wide, damaged and broken, leaving only the foundation.

No. 5: Central chedi behind the ordination hall. It is a brick-and-mortar bell-shaped pagoda on an octagonal base, 10 meters wide and approximately 6 meters high. Looters damaged the broken spire at the base on the east end for a long time. Later, the staff of the 1st Fine Arts Unit, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, repaired it by bringing bricks in to fill the base.

No. 6: Double boundary stones or Bai Sema Double were damaged, leaving only a 1-meter broad base.

No. 7: The ordination hall in front of the chedi faces east, 6.50 meters away from the chedi wall. The rectangular terrace of the hall was built in brick-and-mortar, approximately 50 cm high, 13.50 m wide on each side, 32 m long on each side, with two stairs to the back with a width of 1.40 meters and one stair in front of the ubosot of 2 meters wide.

No. 8: The wall of the ordination hall was made of bricks and cement. There were two front doors, 1.50 meters wide.

No. 9: A base for enshrining the Buddha image made of bricks and cement. The remaining Buddha image in the Mara Wichai attitude from the Ayutthaya period was made of brick-and-mortar brick. Looters broke the image and dug deep under the pedestal looking for treasures. There are two rows of 10 brick pillar foundations, each with a width of 70 cm.

No. 10: A vihara stands to the northeast of the ordination hall, 6 metres from the main hall, 16 metres wide and 22 meters long on each side. The walls and the vihara were wholly destroyed, leaving only the foundations.