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Discovering Thonburi’s Lesser-Known Temples and Buddhist Mural Paintings

Thonburi was the capital of Thailand for only 15 years, from 1767 until 1782, and Taksin was its only King. When Rama I came to the throne, he was very much aware that the moat would not provide an effective barrier against determined Burmese invaders. The area, surrounded by waterways, was also too small for what was then a growing city. The king turned his thoughts to the land on the eastern bank of the river. There were numerous settlements and temples but they were scattered amongst farmlands, orchards and marshy countryside. The Chinese merchants were offered an area of land not far from their original settlement and they did not appear to resist to be relocated. With a new capital city to be constructed on their doorstep, they were probably delighted. At an auspicious time on the 21 April 1782, stakes were driven into the soil of Bangkok for the City Pillar, marking the official founding of the new city of Bangkok.

Once Bangkok was founded as the new capital of Siam, within a short time, Thonburi became something of a rural backwater. A place of markets, gardens, canals and old temples, had been asleep all the way through the 19th century as the Chakri Dynasty built Bangkok into a powerful city. Thonburi remained officially an independent city and province until it was merged into Bangkok in 1971. As there are many canals on the west bank, Thonburi, in general, has retained many more of its waterways and traditional wooden Thai houses than the rest of Bangkok. A cruise through the canals on this side of the Chao Phraya River is a delightful experience.

On Sunday, 7 July 2024. The Siam Society will arrange a study trip for those who are interested in discovering the lesser-known temples and mural paintings in the ordination halls of temples in Thonburi.

When

Sunday, 7 July 2024

Leader

Mr Euayporn Kerdchouay

Senior Consultant of The Siam Societ

Booking

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Sunday, 7 July 2024

08:00

Meet at The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Road, Sukhumvit 21, Bangkok.

Depart The Siam Society for Thonburi by van

Morning: Visit Wat Dusidaram Worawihan, situated on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Bangkok Noi district. This temple probably was founded by common people in the Ayutthaya period. The temple was enlarged and renovated during the time of King Rama I and was again renovated during the reign of King Rama V. During World War II, this area was bombarded and Wat Dusidaram was slightly damaged. While Wat Bhumarin Rachapaksi was badly damaged and Wat Noi Thongyu was almost completely devastated. Only the enclosure wall and parts of the ordination hall remained. The mural paintings in the ordination hall of Wat Dusidaram were executed by the Fine Arts Department in 1983.
Visit the ordination hall and wihan of Wat Bhumarin Rachapaksi which is located in the compound of Wat Dusidaram.
Visit Wat Bang Yi Khan which dates from the beginning of the Rattanakosin period and is currently being restored. It is an elegant building with two entrance doorways protected by finely carved porticos. The mural paintings inside are of good quality but are in bad condition. On the wall facing the principal Buddha image is the mural painting that depicts the vigorous scene of Buddha’s Victory over Mara. Behind the altar is a cluttered collection of Rattanakosin Buddhas. The rear wall shows a representation of the Buddha in the centre of a medallion surrounded by waves with a decorative background.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon: Visit Wat Chaiya Thit. This temple is rather small and the temple’s main interest is in the remarkable mural paintings in the ordination hall which date from the early Bangkok period. The painted scenes and the colours used were common in the period. The exterior of the building has been restored and the temple appears quite dull until one gets inside. It is the remoteness and inaccessibility of this temple that has helped preserve its murals for such a long time, preventing men from damaging them. In 1982, a little before the celebration of Bangkok’s Bicentennial, the Fine Arts Department had those murals restored.

 

 

 

 

Visit Wat Thong Thammachat. It is a third-rank royal temple since it was built by commoners. King Rama III later bestowed the new royal name on it. The temple is located in Khlong San district. The ordination hall has two panelled doors in front and at the rear. There are five windows on both sides of the hall. The Bai Sema or boundary markers around the hall are in the style of the early Rattanakosin period. They are sheltered inside structures made in the shape of canopied seats. At each corner of the wall which surrounds the hall, there is a Chedi with indented corners. At the mid-point of the wall on each of the four sides, there are gateways surmounted by niches in the style of King Rama IV’s period. The ordination hall of this temple was restored in 1915. The mural paintings are an excellent example of murals painted during the reign of King Rama III and this indicates that they must have been repaired during the reign of King Rama IV.

Visit Wat Hong Rattanaram. It is a magnificent temple from the Ayutthaya period which was restored by King Taksin. The temple is notable not only for the exquisite stucco decoration of the ordination hall and the wooden doors decorated with delicately carved figures of hamsas (hong) of which the temple takes its name but also for the Buddha images it contains. Among them is a fine Sukhothai image dating from 1422 known as Phra Trimuk. There is also a beautiful wooden Ho Trai in this temple.

Depart back to The Siam Society
18:00 Arrive at The Siam Society
   

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.

Important notes:

– The Siam Society may utilise photos taken from study trips, lectures, performances, and other activities as part of its public relations and marketing communication campaign. These photos, which may sometimes contain image(s) of activity participants, can also be featured on The Society’s website and other online social media channels.

Booking:

The contribution of THB 3,200 (THB 3,700 for non-member) will cover transportation, meals as mentioned in the programme, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. In addition, basic travel insurance is included. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the payment has been made. There is a 3% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), saving account no. 053-2-18000-7, swift code: TMBKTHBK or by scanning the QR code below. Once payment has been made, please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

 

For further information and bookings please contact Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext. 205 or studytrips@thesiamsociety.org. The Society office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

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