Wat Worapho, or the Monastery of the Excellent Bodhi Tree, is an active temple situated on the city island within the Ayutthaya Historical Park along U-Thong Road in Pratu Chai Sub-district.

The temple is separated from a cluster of three restored temple ruins. It is situated north of Wat Rakhang, east of Wat Tuek, south of the Lopburi River and the Royal Boathouse on the opposite bank, and west of Khlong Pak Tho and the Grand Palace.

There is confusion between the temple premises of Wat Rakhang and this temple as the first is said to have been renamed Wat Worapho in the reign of King Borommakot (1733-1758 CE) because of a Bodhi tree sprout sent by the King of Sri Lanka and planted at this temple. [1]


The young King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha (reign 1747-1782 CE) succeeded the throne of Sri Lanka and made away with all the abuses that crept into the Sangha, much supported by the monk Saranankara and his Minister Ehelapola. He sent an embassy consisting of five ambassadors and sixty-one attendants out to Ayutthaya to demand ordained priests re-institute the Upasampada (higher ordination) in Sri Lanka. The embassy reached Ayutthaya in 1751 CE and was received with much pump by King Borommakot. King Borommakot was well inclined to the request of King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha and readied a Siamese religious embassy to accompany the Sinhalese embassy home. The Sinhalese embassy returned with the Siamese embassy on two ships in December 1751.

"Reaching 1115 of the Royal Era, a year of the cock, fifth of the decade, meanwhile, the Holy Lord Kittisiri the Royal Lion enjoyed the wealth within the Municipality of Singkhan Nakhòn as an independent sovereign within the Continent of Langka. Now at that time in the Holy Buddhist Religion on the Island of Langka, holy monks and clerics could not be found. The King thereupon commissioned Siri Watthana, a counselor, to be His Royal Ambassador, with a deputy ambassador and tertiary ambassador, to convey a holy royal missive and to escort articles of propitious royal tribute, including a Holy Paramount Bone Relic as the foremost one, with the ship of Olankha, a Dutch merchant, on in to foster the ties of holy royal friendship at the Celestial Capital and Grand Metropolis, as He would request holy monks and clerics to go forth and have them administer the vows and ordain noble youths to perpetuate the Holy Buddhist Religion within the Continent of Langka. The King manifested His holy compassion by commanding officials to arrange to receive the embassy from Langka following tradition. Then the King had the ambassadors ushered in for an audience to prostrate themselves and render homage, and His Majesty appeared to the guests of the municipality at the secondary portico of the Holy Throne Hall of the Palace of the Omniscient One. After extending a holy royal greeting to them three times following the custom of rulers, the King made holy royal gifts to the embassy of such rewards as were appropriate. The King thereupon manifested His holy compassion by being pleased to have crown servants commissioned as an embassy to convey a holy royal missive and escort articles of royal tribute in reply on out to the Holy Lord of Langka. Then the King was pleased to have the Reverend Ubali and the Reverend Ariya Muni, two members of the Holy Royal Synod, along with twelve junior holy clerics, invited to go out to establish the Holy Buddhist Religion and ordain noble youths within the Continent of Langka. And the King had the Supreme Holy Cleric Royal compose one other ecclesiastical missive to be taken out as well. Then the King had one ship readied and had the Thai embassy, together with the fourteen holy clerics, the holy royal missive and the articles of royal tribute, board that ship to accompany the ship of that embassy which had come from Langka." [2]

The Sinhalese embassy arrived in Colombo in mid-January 1753 CE. The Siamese delegation arrived in Trincomalee in May of the same year. Within three years, Upali Maha Thero and his chapter ordained seven hundred priests, several thousand youths of good families had entered the temples as novices, and a Sangha Racha was appointed to take charge of the religious establishment in Sri Lanka. Finally, after re-establishing the Upasampada and creating the Siam Nikaya order, the Siamese monks returned home. The ambassadors received a model of the Tooth Relic as a present for King Borommakot. It is understood that the Bodhi tree sprout (1) arrived either with the Sinhalese delegation or upon the return of the Siamese delegation. As in the "Account of King Kirti Sri's embassy to Siam in Saka 1672", written either by Ellepola Mohottala or Eittaliyadde Rala, two out of the five Sinhalese ambassadors and published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Ceylon Branch. Vol. XVIII, there is no mention of a ceremony for planting a Bodhi tree. I conclude that the latter occurred on the return of the first Siamese delegation under Upali Maha Thero and his chapter in the year1655 CE. [3]


The ubosot is one of the two structures north of the road (Field Marshall Phibunsongkram ordered its construction) found on the FAD 1953 map. This ordination hall faces north towards the Lopburi River and has been renovated over time.

The ubosot has a large, gold-painted, sitting Buddha image situated in a glass niche at its entrance. There are two wooden entry doors nicely decorated with black lacquer and gold paint. Within the hall are many Buddha images, and the walls are colourfully painted with murals depicting Buddha’s life.

The Wat Worapho Quest

Engelbert Kaempfer’s sketch indicates a temple north of Wat Rakhang along the Na Rong Mai Road opposite the Saphan Sai So Bridge (Chain Bridge) and the Maha Phokharat palace gate. 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.

On the Fine Arts Department [FAD] 1957 CE map, we find that the area called 'Wat Wora-Bote' consists of present Wat Worapho and Wat Rakhang. Field Marshall Phibunsongkram ordered a road constructed along the bridge across the Pak Tho canal, passing 'Wat Vora-bote' and 'Wat Vora-chetharam' to lead to the reclining Buddha of Wat Lokaya Sutha. On the map, we can see two structures on the north side, cut off by this new road. These two structures are today part of Wat Worapho. [4]

Wat Worapho appears on Phraya Boran Rachathanin’s 1926 CE map as a small square named ‘Rong Mai’ (silk mill). It figures in the same way on the FAD 1974 CE map, but on the FAD 1993 CE map, the location is indicated as a temple site. The FAD 2007 CE map no longer shows the place as an archaeological location.

Remains the question did King Borommakot rename Wat Rakhang as Wat Worapho, or did he order the construction of a new temple to house the Sri Lankan Bodhi tree sprout?

Based on Kaempfer’s sketch, I believe Wat Worapho was established to shelter the sprout of a Bodhi tree from Sri Lanka, and the name of Wat Rakhang was never changed in contradiction to the FAD statement. Today at the exact location indicated by Kaempfer, there is the modern Wat Worapho. Archaeological excavation on the site could confirm whether or not Kaempfer’s drawing is correct, and traces remain of the temple dating back to 1655 CE.

Wat Worapho is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 32.31" N, 100° 33' 17.87" E.


(1) The latter tree was considered a sprout from the original Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya, under which Buddha reached enlightenment.


[1] Information board Fine Arts Department in situ August 2012.
[2] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p. 452. Source: Royal Autograph. Religious Diplomacy with Sri Lanka.
[3] Pieris, P.E. (1908). Religious Intercourse Between Ceylon and Siam in the Eighteenth Century. Bangkok Siam Observer Office. pp. 37-40.
[4] Amatyakul, Tri (1957). Guide to Ayudhya and Bang-Pa-In. Prachandra Press, Bangkok.