Wat Worachettharam is a restored temple ruin situated within the Ayutthaya Historical Park and west of the Grand Palace in the Pratu Chai Sub-district. The temple is part of a cluster of three restored temple ruins. The ruin is southeast of Wat Tuek (active temple), west of Wat Rakhang (ruin), and north of Wat Lokaya Sutha (ruin). Wat Worachettharam stood on the north bank of Khlong Fang and was surrounded by a moat.

Wat Worachettharam’s name consists of 3 parts. The Sanskrit prefix ‘wora’ (vora or vara from varaha), meaning excellent or superb, refers to royalty. Chet or Chettha translates from Thai as ‘elder brother’, while the suffix ‘tharam’ is used in Sanskrit for a comparative and superlative form. The monastery's name can thus be translated as the “Monastery of the Most Excellent Elder Brother”. [1]


The King of Ava, Nyaungyan Min (reign 1555-1605 CE), invaded the Shan provinces and brought the princes, who had declared themselves independent under his rule and requested to be subjected to Siam, one after another, as far as Mueang Nai (Mone) back under his control. He subdued Mone and was on his way to attack Mueang Saen Wi (Hsenwi). King Naresuan, receiving this information, ordered the mobilisation of an army to attack Ava. King Naresuan and his younger brother Ekathotsarot marched in February 1604 CE an army to Chiang Mai over Kamphaeng Phet. They encamped there for a month to prepare for the upcoming operation. He ordered the King of Chiang Mai to join the attack on Ava with a Lan Na army. He then split up his troops into two armies. King Naresuan proceeded with a part of the Ayutthaya army and the King of Chiang Mai with his army to Ava via Mueang Hang Luang (1) to cross the Salween River (Thanlyin River) there and pass through the Shan Country they would enter the Burmese territory near Ava. King Ekathotsarot proceeded with the rest of the Ayutthaya army to Mueang Fang. King Naresuan arriving at Hang Luang, encamped with his troops in the vicinity of Thung Kaeo. The vanguard under Phraya Kamphaengphet continued and reached the Salween River. At that time, King Naresuan became seriously ill with pustules (likely smallpox). Ekathotsarot was informed and left Fang for Hang Luang. Ekathotsarot arrived in time to attend to his brother for three days. King Naresuan died on Monday, 25 April 1605 CE in the afternoon at the age of 50. Ekathotsarot ordered the armies to abandon the expedition and carried the body of his brother back to Ayutthaya. Ekathotsarot, on his return, took care of the funeral of his elder brother and erected in commemoration the Worachettharam monastery. [2]

"And the Holy-Feet made royal merit and observed the transcendent virtues of piety. That is, to begin with, having built a holy and excellent chief temple—with a great preaching hall adorned with an image of the Holy Buddha, with a great stupa filled with a holy relic of the Buddha, and completed with dormitories and a wall appropriate to the Forest Dwelling sect—He produced a complete edition of the holy Tripitaka, including both the original holy Pali text and all of the Atthakatha and Dika explanatory treatises. Thereupon, having finished preparing a Holy Hall of the Law, and having invited holy monks of the Forest Dwelling Sect who were endowed with especially superior piety and virtue to come to live in and control that holy and excellent chief temple, He appointed khun and mün crown officials just for the temple and then endowed it with some of His holy royal wealth in order to have the proper alms of the four necessities prepared and presented to the holy monks in perpetuity. Then He had the six almshouses prepared and then provided them with some of His holy royal wealth in order to have food and rice prepared and presented to the monks for their daily food without fail." [3]

Wat Worachettharam is said by historians to be related to the text above in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The text does not mention the monastery's name, but I presume that its name was handed down from the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE until the drawing of a map 80 years later, which mentioned a Wat Chettharam.

The legend goes that the remains of King Naresuan were housed at this temple, but this is likely not true, as the bone relics of the kings of Ayutthaya were kept behind the archway of the Royal vihara of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. The monastery's location was more likely the cremation ground of King Naresuan, considering the vicinity of the Grand Palace.

The royal cremation ground called "Sanam Na Chakkrawat", south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, on the location of the former Wat Chi Chiang, was not yet constructed. In the early Ayutthaya period, it was a custom to establish a monastery on the Royal funeral pyre and erect a funeral monument (chedi/prang) for the deceased in commemoration. Examples for this period were Wat Phra Ram (funeral pyre of King Ramathibodi I), Wat Racha Burana - funeral pyre of the princes Phraya Ay & Yi and King Intharacha (reign 1409-1424 CE). This tradition continued in the middle Ayutthaya period, for example, Wat Sop Sawan - Funeral pyre of Queen Suriyothai and daughter - Memorial Chedi at Wat Suan Luang.


Wat Worachettharam consists of three sermon halls, an ordination hall, the main chedi and some satellite chedis. As mentioned earlier, the monastery was surrounded by a moat, which Khlong Fang fed. The monastic structures were situated within an outer wall.

The primary feature is a restored large bell-shaped chedi of Sri Lankan style on a square platform. The square harmika is surmounted by a nearly complete spire supported by a colonnade, typical for the Ayutthaya style. The platform can be accessed by stairs in the north and the south.

The main sermon hall stands east of the chedi, but only the restored foundations of the platform, walls and pillars are left. On the altar's location sits a large Buddha image in the Subduing Mara posture.

To the north stands the ordination hall or ubosot. The foundations of the boundary stones are still visible. The building has still its walls intact but is roofless. The gable shows evidence of once having been decorated with stucco and porcelain pottery. In this hall also sits a large Buddha image in the Subduing Mara posture. A gallery of fragmented Buddha images can be seen on a small platform along the walls. Behind the ubosot to the west stood a small chedi, but its foundations are not visible anymore today.

To the east of the ordination hall are the foundations of another unknown building and an unidentified square brick structure that could be the remnants of a bell or drum tower.

Another prayer hall or vihara stood north of the ubosot, but only the restored foundations are visible.

A third vihara stood in the northeast corner of the premises, close to the outer wall. Here again, we find only the restored foundations of the building. East of this vihara stands two small chedis with indented corners on a rectangular platform. Only the foundations remain.

Two temples bear the name Worachet. The other monastery called Wat Worachet, is situated west of the city island in Thung Phra Chet.

Wat Worachettharam is not drawn on Kaempfer’s map, though we can find the two other temples in its vicinity, Wat Rakhang and Wat Lokaya Sutha, on his map. Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716 CE) was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) and visited Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE. We can conclude that Kaempfer did not access the area behind both temples or the monastery was constructed post-1690 CE. I presume the first option is the right one.

Neither Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE), a French cartographer, has Wat Worachettharam on his map ‘Plan De La Ville De Siam’, based on a Jesuit survey in 1687 CE and published as plate No. 4 in volume 9 of the 1752 CE French edition of Abbé Antoine François Prévost's l'Histoire Générale des Voyages.

The monastery is, for the first time, found on a mid-19th century map in an identical position as on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE. The mid-19th century map indicates the existence of a chedi. On the latter map, the monastery is called Wat Chettharam, while on PBR's map, it is called Wat Worachettharam. Phraya Boran Ratchathanin’s addition of the suffix ‘wora’ to the name of the temple ruin on the city island adds only to the confusion.


(1) Mueang Haeng is at present a subdistrict of Wiang Haeng District in Chiang Mai Province. The location believed to be King Naresuan's last encampment is in the vicinity of Wat Phra Borommathat Saen Hai in Saen Hai Sub-district and situated along the Mae Taeng River. The Shan people believe that King Naresuan died in the Shan town of Mongton while on his way to help Chao Kham Kai Noi, the Prince of Hsenwi, resist the Burmese. According to the Shan, the Thai king and the Shan prince died side by side on the battlefield. The Shan believe that King Naresuan was cremated and his ashes interred in a stupa in Mongton, in the southern part of the Shan State. The place of his death remains controversial. [4]


[1] Whitney, William Dwight (1979). A Sanskrit grammar, including both the classical language and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana.Leipzig. Breitkopf and Härtel. p. 159.
[2] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. pp. 194-5. / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph. Death of Naresuan at Hang Luang, 1605.
[3] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. pp. 199-200. / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph. King Ekathotsarot, 1605-1610.
[4] The Nation. Warrior king remains a very modern mystery. 30 April 2006.

The Ground Plan of Wat Worachettharam

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

No. 1: The temple wall is made of brick-and-mortar, 82.50 metres wide on 86 metres long and 50 cm thick, with three entries on the east, north and south, about 2 m wide. The walls are entirely damaged and broken.

No. 2: A vihara facing east, 11.50 meters wide and 18 meters long. The roof is in thatched clay tiles, but all completely broken. We find the four walls of the vihara the long sides have one window on each side, 50 cm wide, 1.50 metres high, three doors in the front, two side doors, 1.14 metres wide and 2.50 m high. The central door is 95 cm wide (not readable) meters high the back door has one door, 1.60 meters wide and 2 meters high. The front gable is decorated with porcelain crockery and coloured patterns adorned with five remaining porcelain cups and bowls and one coloured pattern.

No. 3: The Buddha image made of brick and mortar is damaged, leaving only the left hand. The image is 3 meters high and has a lap of 2.40 meters wide.

No. 4: The surrounding wall of the pagoda is damaged, leaving only the square foundation 18 metres wide and 7 meters away from the vihara.

No. 5: The round bell-shaped chedi in Sri Lanka style is made of brick and mortar. The spire is broken and has been stolen for a long. The base is 14.50 meters wide.

No. 6: The Bai Sema or boundary stones were paired, but all are lost. Only the 1.50-meter wide base remains.

No. 7: The ordination hall is made of brick and cement and wholly damaged. Only the temple walls remain at the southeast corner, 2.40 meters long, 3 meters high, and 50 cm thick. The ubosot is 19.50 meters long on 16.40 meters wide with two front doors, 2 meters wide per door. One back door is 1.8 meters wide. The building is 5 meters away from the vihara.

No. 8: A chedi, made of brick and mortar on a square base with a length of one meter per side, is destroyed. The main pagoda is 4.60 metres away.

No. 9: A vihara, 21 meters long on 13 meters wide, completely damaged and broken. The chedi is 4.40 meters away.

No. 10: Vihara, 25 meters long on 10.50 meters wide with one front and back door. The width of the door is 1.20 meters, damaged and broken.

No. 11: Two chedis on a square base of 4 by 6.40 meters are completely damaged and broken. The base is 6 meters away from the vihara. The base of the chedis is 2.25 meters wide. The chedis are destroyed.