Wat Mongkhon Bophit

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Wat Mongkhon Bophit is an 'active' temple compound, and throughout the day many people visit and worship the Buddha image.

Interestingly it lies adjacent to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, and therefore both the ruins of Wat Phra Si Sanphet and the more contemporary Wat Mongkhon Bophit can be visited the same morning or afternoon.

The main feature at Wat Mongkhon Bophit is the large bronze (gilded) Buddha image, named Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which is close to 17 meters high (when including the 4,5 meters high base).

In the early Ayutthaya period there was no particular place set aside for royal cremation ceremonies. When a king died an area would be chosen for the ritual. After the ceremonies had been performed the location where the cremation took place became the site of a new monastery.

From available evidence we know that King Chairachathirat ordered the building of Wat Chichiang and a chedi in the vicinity of a cremation spot, and the casting of an image. Phra Mongkhonbophit has been identified as the image which King Chairachathirat had sculpted in 1538 A.D. at Wat Chichiang.

The chronicles mention that in 1610 AD. King Songtham ordered the Buddha image known as Phra Mongkhonbophit to be moved from the east to the west and commanded the construction of a mandapa (square roofed structure) to house this image of the Buddha. In 1612 AD. King Songtham chose to limit the area for cremations to the central part of the town, near Wat Chichiang. This was the reason for moving the Buddha image to a new spot in the Western sector, after which its original site was used for a cremation area.

In the reign of King Sua (1697—1706 A.D.), lightning struck the top of the mandapa and it collapsed. The head of Phra Mongkhonbophit fell off. As a result the king had the mandapa rebuilt and turned into a Viharn. ln the reign of King Borommakot (1732-1758 AD.) another restoration took place. When Ayutthaya was sacked the Viharn was apparently burnt.

The Phra Mongkhonbophit image was last restored in 1955 A.D.

In 1990 A.D. the Mongkhonbophit Foundation in Ayutthaya desired to cover the image with gold leaf. Approved by the Fine Arts Department, the work was completed two years later.

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