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Visit Sukhothai…..a delightful trip

Learn about the history, culture and traditions of Thailand.

Here we are, today I brought beautiful photos and good stories, for taking all of our members to travel to Sukhothai province. Many of you probably drove through, but never traveled here for sure ... Let's come along with me, then you will see an interesting aspects of Sukhothai... I hope this trip will be of benefit to all family and friends here. This set of pictures was taken on April 9, 2018.

 

A trip to explore Sukhothai museums was happened by chance as I had to travel to Sukhothai Province and stayed there for several days.  I had plenty of time, so I wanted to visit Sukhothai in different angles. The museum is also a good choice, not too hot, walking in the cool air, preferable during a hot season in mid-April of the year. Moreover, the more of knowledge will be added to yourselves. The idea was great, Let's get started. The first place was nearby at the Sukhothai Sangkhalok Museum. This museum is privately owned, located in the Ananda hotel area. Turning on the GPS to easily find it, you won't get lost for sure.

The museum opens daily from 08.00 - 17.00

Admission fees: foreigners 100 Baht / Thai nationality 50 Baht / Child 20 Baht

Wait !!!  Why did I pay 100 Baht ?  We had talked for some time, I am Thai people. !!! ...Come on, please change.

Before entering the exhibition room on the ground floor, there are two interesting glass cabinets, be sure to stop by. The left side cabinet shows the Walking Buddha image (Leela Style), which was an important artistic achievement during the Sukhothai period.

The right side cabinet explains about an article from the 1st main stone inscription during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, mentioning the abundance of resources in Sukhothai Kingdom that local residents like to draw fish patterns imitating nature and become unique on chinaware crockery. "In the water there is fish, in the field there is rice"

The exhibitions in the museum are divided into 2 floors, the ground floor exhibiting the lifestyle of the ancient Sukhothai people. Show pictures of life, thoughts, beliefs and various antiques that were excavated.

Painting on the chinaware bowl, of buildings picture consists of tall columns with ladders and a carved roof, is the only evidence that gives us a glimpse into the ancient Sukhothai dwellings.

This cabinet portrays the evolution of pottery, which divided into different eras. In prehistoric times, pottery was not very diverse in shape and burned with low temperature heat. This Brittle texture is called Normal ground Pottery. The pattern was decorated by scratching the string and writing in red color. In Semi-historic period, the shape of the containers will be more variety. Decorated patterns with white-black writing and detailed-red writing methods, are beautiful. In the late period of this era, human known to burn the covered glaze to prevent the container from being easily damaged. The decoration was still scratched or attached molded.

 

Historical period, It was the golden era of the pottery production in Thailand, which called chinaware of the Sukhothai and Lanna period. It is burned with high temperature fire called tough soil. Glazes come in many colors, unusual container shapes, sometimes imitating foreign wares, techniques for decorating patterns including scraping, drawing under the glaze, molding, grooving and carving.

This cabinet shows chinaware in the Sukhothai period, Lanna period, Ayutthaya period and Rattanakosin period.

Chinaware from the discovery site at Baan Wang Haad

Chinaware from the discovery site at Muang Chaliang

Illuminator and different types of lamps

Religion and Architecture

In Sukhothai period, people still believed in mixed religions the Mahayana religion as Khmer, Paganism, Buddhism, Ancient Brahmanism as evidenced by the shape of the some architecture in Sukhothai including the superstition, spiritual worship as recorded in the inscriptions and artifacts created for the sacrifice.

From the study of Sukhothai Architecture, there was no evidence ever been recorded as document. Most of the data were from the archaeological remains and artifacts found. We know that Sukhothai people prefer to penetrate the wall with vertically holes to allow a small amount of light and wind pass through the wall called “Look ma Huad”, which suitable for places where peace and concentration are needed. No one had ever known whether the engineers of that time knew how to calculate window structures from this single relic, which appeared to be a porthole that could have been assembled from wood; Therefore, no relic left for us to see at the present. The piece of chinaware is another particular piece that shows the wisdom of artisans at that time, and is useful for studying the history of Thai architecture. In summary, Sukhothai era was considered the Sukhothai period as the perfect period of Thai art.

Ancient artifacts unearthed In Sukhothai Province.

Pottery from China and Myanmar.

Pottery products of Sukhothai Kingdom

The 2nd floor displays significant works such as Lanna ceramics, which is completely beautiful and quite large

(Very beautiful…. but hot, because they did not turn on the A/C. hahaha)

This was the end of our first museum exploration ... Let's went ahead and continue with our next destination. After doing some research, the museum fans must not miss the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum.

 

 

It was about 20 kilometers from where we were now, which took about 25 minutes drive to the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum. It was located at opposite the Sukhothai Historical Park. The plan was that we should go walking in the museum for some cool A/C first, when the late afternoon, that the sun was slightly lighter, we would go cycling in Sukhothai Historical Park at the opposite side. It is how to keep cool and survival in this hot world.

 

Finally we arrived at Ramkhamhaeng National Museum. This picture was taking from the front, where the entrance would be on the side. Driving straight from the front gate until you reach the roundabout and turn left, the you would find a parking place, the entrance will be on the left side.

The museum is open everyday (Not except for public holidays), from 9 am to 4 pm. Admissions fee for Thai people is 30 Baht, foreigners is 150 Baht. After receiving the ticket, let's go see the inside.

Most of the artifacts exhibit in this museum were from excavation and restoration of ancient sites in Sukhothai, old Town Nearby the ancient city. The other parts are antiques, artifacts moved from the museum of Wat Rajthani.

 

The museum building has 2 floors. The ground floor exhibits art and antiques obtained from exploration, excavation, and restoration of the Sukhothai Archaeological sites, Si Satchanalai, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai period stone inscriptions. The upstair exhibits Bronze Buddha images, idols, Sangkhalok pottery, weaponry Sangkhalok crockery, money, water pipes and display of the Sukhothai irrigation system.

 

Passing through the door, we were happy and rejoice with tears, since the air conditioner inside was cool and relax. The first picture that we saw was a bronze Buddha image standing in the middle.

On the right side, exhibits ancient tools, archaeological sites in Thailand and various stucco sculptures.

On the left side, exhibits Buddha images and the inscriptions of King Ramkhamhaeng

An overview of the 2nd floor Museum emphasizes on the display of Buddha statues of different eras and the Buddha's relics room.

There are many significant antiques display in this museum. The first piece is an inevitable “The Gilded lacquered bronze Buddha image in walking position”, a unique sculpture of Sukhothai art. The distinctive features of the Buddha images in this period are oval faces. The eyes are slender and look downward, bent eyebrows, prominent nose, thin mouth, knot-shaped chin, with a halo-shaped flame above the head, hair flown in a small lump, wide shoulder and narrow waist. Wear crossing yellow robe, Sangkata hemp cloth length to the stomach and the end is notched into the teeth of the centipede, according to the ideology of a great characteristic. The creating this Round Relief walking style Buddha image also shows the high technique of metal casting during the golden age of Sukhothai art in the past as well.

A bronze Idol of Harihara. Harihara is a god in Brahmanism, who is the integration of God Vishnu and God Shiva into one body by combining the distinctive features of each one together perfectly. The idol Hariha has 4 hands, the upper right hand hold the chakra, the upper left hand holds the conch. The lower left hand holds the lotus, and the lower right hand in picking gesture “Jeeb”, an index finger and thumb finger as a snap fingers like position (really!). This shows the influence and importance of Brahminism during the Sukhothai era.

A Sandstone Devanari (Lady angel) wears a large neck filter, long cloth shape, bringing out the side of a belt decorated with a flower pattern. The bottom edge is decorated with feather tassels. From which the accessories patterns and the jewelry she wearing shows the influence of the Bayon Khmer art that found in Banteaychmar castle, Cambodia. It represents the development of fine art in the pre-Sukhothai period.

The 4 square stone Buddha's footprints that overlapped and descending, the top footprint has a pattern of Dhammachak in the middle of the foot print, which is a symbol of Buddha. The 4 footprints refer to the previous four Lord Buddhas. Replication of the Buddha's footprint is popular belief as an expression of the Buddha worship, that adopted from Lanka.

As evidence found on the stone inscriptions of Khao Sumonkut, mentioning Phra Maha Thamracha Lithai, ordered to duplicate the Buddha's footprint from Lanka to be enshrined on the mountain in 4 major cities; Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, Bang Phan and Phra Bang. In the garden outside the building, exhibits various artifacts such as etched plates, simulated stoves and Sema, Thammachak, etc.

Well, It’s Late afternoon with a cooler sun and wind. It was time to move to Sukhothai Historical Park, left the car parked at the same place. We then went across the street to the opposite side, and bought entrance tickets. The admission fees is 20 Baht for Thai nationals, and 100 Baht for foreigners. It is open to visitors every day from 06:30 to 19:30. Since this place is a very large area, I recommended to rent a bicycle for 20 Baht to explore all the areas. Or if you want to drive a car to see all city, the rental car would charged 50 Baht per car.  But for visitors who would like to tour all of the old city outside the wall, driving a car is better, because it is very far (I warned you).

Sukhothai city plan is a rectangular shape. The city is approximately 2 kilometers long and approximately 1.6 kilometers wide. There are 4 city gates in the center of 4 walls of the city, in a radius of 5 km. There are about 70 archaeological sites (including outside the city wall), and 26 remainders of palaces and temples inside the city wall. The largest temple is Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai Historical Park, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, together with the historical park at Kamphaeng Phet and Si Satchanalai under the name

 "Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns" according to the information in publicity.

There are many tourists in Historical Park, most of them are foreigners and choose to rent a bicycle for visiting. It would be more enjoyed, If coming during the winter, this season was really too hot. I didn’t have much time because I spent lot of time in the museum. Not much time left, and it was already getting dark. Therefore, I chose to walk and visit, then stop while I tired.

This picture according to the map is probably the City Pillar Shrine, behind this is Wat Mahathat temple

This photo shows an exquisite stucco pattern. If you saw it when it was 100% perfect condition, you would definitely stand amazed. The Buddha images in the middle of Sukhothai period are beautiful and delicacy, according to the uniqueness that we have learned from the past 2 museums which are an oval face, bent eyebrows, a prominent nose, knot-shaped chin, a smile mouth, hair flown in a small lump, the radius of flame, a long robe, crossed down on a sedate base. The fact that we have some knowledge, will made us having fun to walk around too.. hahaha

Wat Mahathat is a large temple in the middle of the city. It was built in the reign of King Sri Indra Thit. There are more than 200 pagodas in the temple, which is an important temple of Sukhothai. There is Phra Chedi Mahathat Phum khao bin style, a genuine Sukhothai style art set as the principal pagoda. Surrounded by 8 pagodas on the same base is laterite Prang located in the 4 directions and a combination of Sri Vijaya and Lankan style pagoda that made of bricks at each corner. On the east side of the principal pagoda there is a large vihara, made of laterite, with a pedestal that used to house the largest bronze Buddha image in Thailand, Phra Sri Sakyamuni, now being moved to Wat Suthat in Bangkok. (according to the information in publicity)

There is a stucco pattern at the base around the pagoda. The monks walk around the Phra Mahathat in an Anchulee position southern-clockwise.

Standing Buddha image inside the amulet arch is called "Phra Attharot". Never heard of it, right?  It is all knowledge.. haha

The atmosphere of Wat Mahathat before the sun sets.

At a corner where you can take beautiful shot, so crowded with photographers. (There are around 20 people sitting next to me, I am sure you are not lonely) A public location that everyone must have, A photo scene !.

As far as I know, the park will turn on the lights only on Saturday night. Anyone who intends to take pictures should check the information to confirm again.

Mosquitoes are very cruel, warning again one more time.

Anyone intending to stay until the evening should be prepared with long sleeves and Long legs, or you will be punctured thoroughly.

It's about time, the sky was dark and completely black color. The important was that we could not fight with mosquitoes. We went to find a place to sleep, then continue exploring tomorrow. I had been aiming the Srivilai hotel since I drove in Sukhothai. The hotel is only 2 kilometers away from the historical park, it is a beautiful hotel that has all the facilities, including a swimming pool, spa, restaurant, and bicycles for guests to travel to the historical park as well. (Free bikes too, which I just came to know later), the price is about 2,500 Baht per room with breakfast. (The breakfast set is pretty great) After we reached there late, it's already dark so I took a photo of the pool for you first.

The old and tall pagodas temple were not far from the hotel, making the hotel look beautiful and magical. (This picture is taken from the hotel.)

The room is looking like this, which express a Thai emotion in every corner.

I really liked the washbasin so much, that I would like to bring it home. The color of the Kae Saed flowers is the most painful.

Well, After we had a good rest, we were ready to continue exploring the old town. This morning, first place was Wat Sri Chum. We set up a GPS and got off, It was not far from Sukhothai Historical Park, which took about 10 minutes by car.

 

Wat Sri Chum, presumably built during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng. It appears in the Sukhothai inscription number 1 that "the foot of this Sukhothai town ..... vegetables root .......... with Phra Achana and a castle", the Buddha image in the mondop, is therefore named " Phra Achana ".

 

Phra Mondop wide 32 m. high 15 m. with wall thickness 3 m. The wall on the left side drilled to be a stairway inside the wall up to the rooftop. Along the wall of the tunnel, there are old paintings, but almost all faded. These paintings are almost 700 years old. The ceiling and walls were carved with slate panels, portrays the Tales of Jataka, there are 50 different images in a chronicle series. All of this can be considered as the oldest work of Thai painting. According to the information  (This staircase is closed and it is not open for tourists to go up anymore for safety reasons)

There were a lot of both Thai and foreign tourists here, each one wanted to take a picture. Share a little corner, keep calm so that everyone will get beautiful photos.

"Phra Achana" The word Achana has the meaning of Achala in the Pali. The word "Ah-Cha-la", which means "unshaken, stable man" "person who deserves respect. "Phra Achana is a Buddha image in the Mara Wichai posture, cross-legged, stucco material, masonry and laterite in the core, lap size is 11.30 m. wide and 15 m. high. This Buddha image is of  Sukhothai art and the size is very large, full of Viharn room. 

 

The origin of the Speaking Buddha image legend, was dated back in the Ayutthaya period when King Naresuan the Great Declaration of independence in the year 2127 B.E. in the city of Graing. After the Ayutthaya Declaration, all capitals canceled their tribute to Burma, except the city of Chaliang (Sawankhalok) that refuses to comply with King Naresuan's Command. So he led an army to defeat the city of Chliang, by gathering army  at Wat Si Chum before going to hit the city of Chaliang. Since the battle at that time was a battle between Thais and Thais together, causing the soldiers to be lack of morale and did not want to fight the battle. King Naresuan had made plans to encourage the soldiers,  by having a soldier climb the stairs to the back of the Buddha image and speak of encouragement to the soldiers to fight for this reason. The legend of the Speaking Buddha image at this Wat Si Chum. King  Naresuan also had a ceremony to hold water Allegiance at this temple, which called “Phiphat Sattaya”.

Delicate, beautiful and really huge. It is a mandatory photo that everyone whoever comes must take a picture. I was forced too. hahaha.

From here, we would go out from Mueang to Si Satchanalai district, which is 55 kilometers away, taking about 1 hour by car. We would stop by the Sangkhalok Kiln Study and Conservation Center (Tao Thuriang Kilns) at Ban Koh Noi, as the first place. The center is located 5 kilometers from Si Satchanalai town. At the Sangkhalok Kiln Conservation Study Center and the surrounding areas along the Yom River (generally spread around 1.5 kilometers perimeter) will find the remains of about 200 ancient kilns, which are gathered in groups and use numbers as identifiers such as Kiln group number 61, 42, etc.

Inside the Sangkhalok Kiln Study and Conservation Center Building is a place to exhibit the chinaware kiln and large bowl-type wares obtained from the excavations of archaeologists from Fine Arts Department, which has brought artifacts and academic documents to be on display for people who are interested to study.

Atmosphere in the center.

The remains of unearthed ancient kilns that displayed in the center.

Kiln group no. 42 and 123 are an archaeological site that made us know the development of the kiln and products from the kiln. Because under the earth, there are 19 pots of chinaware overlapping one another.

Inside the exhibition building, In addition to the remains of the ancient kiln, there are also boards and showcase to provide knowledge about Sangkhalok products, such as history, importance, production process and a lot more. Your will be tired to read them all .

Ancient Kiln group no. 42 and 123

After collecting knowledge of Sangkhalok chinaware enough already, It's time to find some souvenirs to take home. For anyone interested in shopping, you can stop and buy as you like. There are many shops around in the area to choose from.

P 'Jamnong, the owner of Ket Anong and head of Sangkhalok Community Enterprise Group, Ban Ko Noi, who welcoming us very well,  told us about the intention to unite the villagers in order to conserve chinaware to remain with the village “The community welcomes tourists, they can go and eat, learn the way of life and the traditional pottery making”. P 'Jamnong also has a home stay for tourists to stay and he will take a good care. To contact P 'Jamnong, please call 089-272-3575, 095-314-1380.

We got our souvenir and ready to continue. ... The next destination, that every ancient tour that must visit is Si Satchanalai Historical Park. If you still remember the knowledge from the previous day at the museum, It is also included in the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns. And has already been registered as a world heritage site, just 5 minutes drive to reach and only 3 kilometers apart.

Someone are used to overlooking an information center like this. After  purchased of the ticket, they just left away. I have to tell you that this place is good for both exhibitions and the information provided entirety. The information center here is like a small museum Do not miss to check out and walk around.

The exhibition Inside is divided into 2 main parts which are the Si Satchanalai room and the Chliang town room.

Highlighted artifacts section of Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Temple area (Or the center of Chaliang) before the town had expanded to become the city of Si Satchanalai.

Si Satchanalai room.

Important temples around the Si Satchanalai Historical Park.

Wat Thung Sethi Archaeological Site is opposite the information center. As the sign written.

 

The temple was built in the Sukhothai period, located outside the Si Satchanalai city wall, in front of Ram Narong Gate. The temple faces northeast. There is a rectangular diagram. The temple walls are laterite blocks arranged together. There are 4 entrance gates at the temple, located in the center of the four walls. Architecture within the temple consists of  6 of Viharn Luang - the hall without side walls, 3 long porches, square pillars, with a lowered two-level chukchi base inside. Behind the viharn is a circular Sukhothai-style principal pagoda, decorated under the bell body with lotus talisman. In addition, there are 4 pagodas on the bottom floor of the temple, which remain only at the bottom of the base. Therefore, we are  unable to identify the original form.

Visiting the historical park here, the car driving is not allowed inside. You may use the service tram of the park to take you to each place, and then go down for a walk. Anyone who is good at biking can rent bicycles to visit inside. For any strong one and wants to walk with their own legs, it is not against the rules.

 

Tram service costs 30 Baht per person, and bicycles 20 Baht per vehicle for all day.

Wat Nang Phaya temple was built in the early Ayutthaya period or the late of the Sukhothai era. It is a large temple and is likely to be the important temple, because it is built in the main axis of the Si Satchanalai city. (In line with Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo and Wat Chang Lom).

 

The exterior of the temple decorated with ancient stucco designs, which inspired the local goldsmith to copy and develop to make silver and gold decorative patterns as the origin of the famous ancient Si Satchanalai gold pattern. 

The principal pagoda of Wat Nang Phaya temple is a round pagoda. It is located on the southern base of where originally decorated with elephant stuccos around the base, as same as Wat Chang Lom temple. The shape of the pagoda is similar to the principal pagoda at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet temple, Ayutthaya province.

This area is exceptionally cool as the trees cover all over it. We can take an ease walk here.

Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo is a temple with Authentic Sukhothai art, which there is a principal pagoda in the shape of a lotus flower or Phum Khao bin in the back of the temple. There  are chedi rai (Small pagodas, constructed to support the principal pagoda), including 33 different types of small buildings, and surrounded by a glass wall.

The principal pagoda in the shape of a lotus flower or “Phum Khao bin”.

The pagoda is over there, novice. Hahaha.

The Buddha image which protected by the hood of Naga style, behind the principal pagoda at Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo.

The last temple before we left the park was Wat Chang Lom temple. The area of Wat Chang Lom is within the city wall, almost in the middle of Si Satchanalai town.

The highlight is the Lanka styled of the principal pagoda. There is a square glass wall around the temple, with elephants stucco decorated around the base on 4 sides, totaling 39 elephants ... It is said that anyone who can count all elephants will be lucky…. I counted them all. 

 A large Lanka style principal pagoda stands elegantly tall. There is Buddha's relics inside.

Perhaps visiting the historic site in Thailand requires some imagination, that we only see the body and the leg, that is, an . hahaha.

After leaving the historical park for about 3 kilometers, it took less than 10 minutes to arrive at the Si Satchanalai Community Museum. The museum may difficult to find, and could not be found on Google map. But don't worry, the museum is located in the area of ​​Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Chaliang, so you can set GPS to the temple instead. The museum is opened Monday - Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and admission is free.

The museum is a 2-story wooden museum. A small size museum that tell about the  background history of town, the importance, the traditions and the way of life of the Si Satchanalai people. By dividing the display sections into rooms within 2 floors.

This corner exhibits various traditions of Sukhothai people

This room is an ancient gold making which is the famous gold of Si Satchanalai.

This corner is about the Buddhist amulets and Sangkhalok appliances.

On the way back from the community museum to Si Satchanalai town, I happened to meet with a parade of Baan Haad Siao villagers. I came to know later that it is a tradition that has been held annually for a long time during about a week before Songkran festival.

 

It was the famous Thai Phuan's Elephant parade for Naga Ordination Ceremony of Si Satchanalai district people. Luck on my side must be from the result of completed counting the elephants at Wat Chang Lom. Those 39 elephants had an instant effect, hahaha. Took a break from our ancient tour for a while, Let's join in harmony with the local people in ceremony parade.  People wearing Thai traditional dress and dress up in a  "Teen Jok", a unique Thai Phuan traditional came together in parade so hamony and beautifully.

The Elephant Parade for Naga Ordination Ceremony is a ceremony for the descendants of the Thai Phuan people. In which the Naga will be ordained together with an elephant parade. From the beliefs of Buddhism from the story of Vessantara Jataka, that before the ordination, he had to give food to the Nagendra elephant, and after entering the Buddhist priests, he returned to town with a war elephant parade as a model. The elephant parade here was very lively with complete Light and sound, including  the long drum band. Villagers wre all willing to come together to join the parade, look like almost everyone of the whole city come.. I must admit that this was the largest and most exhilarating Naga procession ceremony I have ever seen.

 

The elephant that participated in the naga parade is also decorated with beautiful dress not less than Ordinating Naga. The highlight of this ceremony is that the entire Naga procession will parade across the Yom river and let the elephants stop eating the prepared fruits at the middle of the river. The parade then returning to the same path, It is a beautiful scene and impressive moment. 

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