Wat Mahathat Worawihan is an old temple which local people call ‘Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat’ or ‘Wat Na Phrathat’. For Thai people, we call the temple is Wat. Wat Mahathat Worawihan is located on Na Muang sub district, the center of Mueang district in Ratchaburi province. Approximately 100 kilometers southeast of Bangkok. Wat Mahathat Worawihan is tourist attractions for someone who loves to sightseeing Khmer arts and Ayutthaya arts.
Why Wat Mahathat Worawihan is an old?
Wat Mahathat Worawihan is believed to be built as Buddhist temple that the temple was built during the Davaravati era, around 10th-11th century A.D. which is the same time when the old city of Ratchaburi was built. The early time of Buddhist culture in Thailand.
When the ancient Khmer kingdom was in power and probably influenced the area. The temple was transformed by following Cambodian prototype. The principle building in the temple was once the Cambodian style Pagoda known as Prasat. In Ayutthaya period the Prasat was restored and slightly changed form the original Cambodian style to be as an existing Pagoda which called Prang.
As depicted in the inscription stone of Preah Khan temple (Construction is the most quaint, the Prasat is located in the middle of the pool like the island in the middle of the ocean. Water from the pool as the holy water, If someone bath or drink water from the pool through the mouth of a lion, elephant, horse and human that are located in the pavilions. Which is believed to cure diseases.) specifies that the temple was built in the reign of King Jayavarman 7, The last King of the ancient Khmer Empire. The temple built by joining with the other five cities are Lavotayapura (Lopburi), Suwannapura (Suphanburi), Samphukapattana (Kosinarai Pond), Srivichaisinghapuri (Mueang Sing, Kanchanaburi) and Srivichaivajaraburi (Petchaburi). In the reign of King Jayavarman 7, the ancient Khmer kingdom or Cambodian kingdom was a powerful Hindu-Buddhist empire in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdoms of Funan and Chenla, at times ruled over most of mainland Southeast Asia.
Around the 13th century, a Khmer sanctuary was built over the temple so that it would be in the center of the town as per the Khmer beliefs about the universe. Then there were fears that the sanctuary would collapse, so a new prang was built at the beginning of the Ayutthaya period. You will see a mixture of Khmer arts and Ayutthaya arts.
What is the heart?
The Prang is the heart of the temple. Inside the Prang, the wall is decorated with mural painting shows the story of Buddha and rows of meditating precious Buddhas. The Prang measured from the bottom to the tops is 34.60 m. high.
What are the structures around the prang?
The first structure around the prang is Pagodas, The pagoda contained of the main structure and three smaller pagodas situated on the same laterite base decorated with stucco adornment. The pagodas face east with the front portico while the three other sides located the arches with standing Buddha inside. The gables adorned with stucco depicted scenes from the Buddha’s life. Inside the pagoda placed the mural-an illustration of the Buddha’s life and previous Buddha. The pagoda were constructed during early Ayutthaya period, 15th-16th centuries.
And the second structure is Cloister, the Cloister was a building surrounding the main pagoda. The uneven laterite contour was found encircling the vihara, with the trace of entrance at the northern side. The cloister had laterite base with engraving decoration. Terracotta roof tiles and architectural adornment in Khmer culture also discovered in the area.
In addition to, The temple has Veranda where the Buddha images of various times are enshrined. Besides the Prang, outside the Prang vicinity in the east is the chapel called Phra Mongkol Buri Vihara. Phra Mongkol Buri enshrined in the chapel is the restored Ayutthaya style Baddha images carved on laterite stone. It is one of the evidences implys that the arts at Wat Mahathat was once inspired by Cambodian art (A unique Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs and the originally Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism).
Phra Mongkol Buri is a stucco image of Lord Buddha in Subduing Mara posture. The lap width of the image is around 157 inches. The image has the characteristics of Pre-Ayutthaya art and Sukhothai styled face, long body and short knees. It is facing east and another Buddha image is behind its back facing the opposite direction, which is west. From the belief of asking Lord Buddha for blessings so that danger is prevented from the front as well as the back. That is why the image is also called Phra Raksamueang (protective city Buddha).
Wat Mahathat Worawihan is worth visiting. If you would like to make merit and blessings in the quiet place or sightseeing Khmer arts and Ayutthaya arts where is near Bangkok and easy to go. You should to go there.