Sukhothai, Historical Park

  Sukhothai Morning and Evening...

SUKHOTHAI, is located about 440km north of Bangkok.

This magnificent historical park of Sukhothai is so vast, (2km x 1.6km) that on foot it becomes, with the heat, a real marathon, not to mention that several temples are located outside the park (Wat Si Chum for example) which only increases the distance to cover.

The visitor, however, will have the possibility to rent a bicycle for a few bahts, much more practical to cover the distances between the different buildings.

So, in addition to discovering magnificent ruins in the middle of a green and often shady park, the bike ride is even more pleasant.

The historical park of Sukhothai is the historical heritage of Thailand which could go back to the dawn of the kingdom. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city of Sukhothai was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Thailand and has been praised for its prosperity. Known as an administrative, religious and economic center, the Sukhothai Historical Park consists of these remarkable places

 The best time...

For those who are a little interested in photography, I won't teach them that the two best times to photograph are : early in the morning, or later in the afternoon.

The midday sun should be avoided: too bright light, no shadows, no perspective...

This time, I stayed a few minutes away from the historical site, and I took the opportunity to take two shots: one in the morning, another in the evening...

You should also know that these temples are generally built towards the East, which means that for most of them, it is better to be early in the morning.

Sukhothai is an exception in the sense that, this historical park being so vast, so varied, there is always the possibility to bring back beautiful and successful pictures whether it is in the morning or in the evening...

So I started to photograph from 8h00 to 10h00... then from 16h00 to 18h30...

The visit of the Park on a bike... a really pleasant ride! 

Whether you visit the site in the morning or in the evening, you can rent a bike... 
30 bahts a day (about 1€) and you are ready to ride through the alleys and stretches of this superb site that is Sukhothai. Most of the small roads to go from one temple to another are asphalt. A really pleasant walk to do.
An advantage which cannot be taken advantage of by groups of tourists who come by bus...

Take a bike ride in such a prestigious park and in complete freedom....
an excellent time to share with your family....
So here I am at 8:30 a.m... but I'm not alone!

Many groups of tourists follow one another. Arrived by coach, they already go through the park with a guide...

The first operation consists (for me) in "spotting" their circuit... to anticipate and to move away from it so that I would have "clean" pictures without having onlookers in the background, which is never very happy, but it happens that you can't avoid this kind of situation.

The park being so spacious, this mission becomes very easy.

This historical park of Sukhothai is so extensive that it was impossible for me to take pictures of all the temples that make up this park. I'm presenting only a part of them here.

Sukhothai, in the morning...

  Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is located in the central area, in the centre of the old walled city. It was the largest and most important temple of the empire, located next to the Royal Palace.
The name of the temple is translated as "Temple of the Great Relic". The temple was built according to the concept of the mandala, an ancient Hindu symbol representing the universe.
Wat Mahathat was founded by Sri Indraditya, the first king of the Sukhothai Empire in the 13th century. A small temple with a fist, it was enlarged and renovated several times by the following kings.
  Other structures of Wat Mahathat

The very large Buddha statues were popular in the time of Sukhothai. Two mondops flanking the main chedi consecrate a 12-metre high standing statue of the Buddha, known as Phra Attharot. Another mondop contains a large stucco image of the Buddha in meditation mudra, seated on a pedestal.

  Wat Sa Si 

Wat Sa Si temple is located a few hundred meters northwest of Wat Mahathat, in the central area inside the old walled city. Its location on a small island in the middle of the pond of Tra Phang Tra Kuan filled with lotus flowers makes it one of the most attractive monuments in the Sukhothai Historical Park.
According to the texts of one of the stone inscriptions found in Sukhothai, Wat Sa Si was founded towards the end of the 14th century. The small temple consists of a main chedi, another smaller chedi, a viharn, an ubosot and a picture of a walking Buddha in Sukhothai style.

 Wat Si Chum

  Wat Si Chum
In the northern zone, outside the walled city, is the Wat Si Chum temple, known for its mondop with a large image of the Buddha partially visible from the outside. The name of the temple translates as "Temple of the Bodhi Tree". Bodhi trees are found in many temples in Thailand, because it is under this tree that the Buddha meditated when he attained enlightenment.
An ancient stone inscription found in the mondop of Wat Si Chum gives information about the foundation of the kingdom of Sukhothai.
The 13th century temple includes a mondop and a viharn. The viharn or assembly hall, of which only the base and rows of pillars remain, is located in front of the mondop.
The brick roof of the Mondops has collapsed. A staircase in the three metre thick walls of the mondop (closed to visitors) leads to the top of the structure. The ceiling of the staircase contained drawings carved into 14th century slate plates depicting scenes from the Jataka tales, the stories of the Buddha's past lives. Buddhist devotees could climb the narrow staircase and watch the representations to learn more about Buddhism. The slabs were removed for safekeeping and are now in the National Museum in Ramkhamhaeng.
  Legend of the image of the Talking Buddha
The image of Phra Achana is also known as Phra Pood Dai, which translates as "the Buddha who speaks". During the reign of King Naresuan, in the second half of the 16th century, many wars were fought with the Burmese.

Legend has it that at one time, before a battle, the king wanted to raise the morale of his troops. On his orders, one of his soldiers climbed the narrow stairs of the mondop where the image of the Buddha is located, without the other soldiers noticing, and gave a speech to the troops. The acoustics of the small space and the fact that the speaker could not be seen led the soldiers to believe that it was the image of the Buddha speaking to them. Another version of the story says that the Burmese armies fled in fear as they approached the image.

  The statue of Buddha Phra Achana
The roofless mondop building houses a huge Buddha image in the Sukhothai style called Phra Achana. The stucco brick image is found in the Bhumisparsha mudra, also known as "Calling the Earth to Witness". Phra Achana is the largest image of Buddha in the Sukhothai style, measuring 15 meters high and 11 meters wide. The Sukhothai-style image, with a serene facial expression, occupies all the space inside the mondop. In the centre of the mondop is an opening of decreasing size towards the top, through which the image can be seen from the outside.
Phra Achana translates as "He who is not afraid". The name of the image is known thanks to a stone inscription that was discovered during excavations at Wat Si Chum. The right hand of the image is covered with gold leaf, put there by Buddhist devotees who come to pay homage to the Buddha. The image was restored by the Thai Department of Fine Arts in the 1950s.

 Sukhothai... in the afternoon, at night...

Here we are in the afternoon (4:30 pm)... the sun has gone down and the more orange light gives these ruins a much softer and more pleasant appearance. The heat tends to fade somewhat, the walk becomes a real pleasure.

   Sukhothai the Evening 

In the course of my visits to this great historical park, I came across this Chinese photographer several times. We greeted each other briefly, and then each continued his tour on his own side...

Arrived at night, once I had put away my equipment, I decided to have dinner in a small local restaurant close to the park.

As if by chance, I met there my Chinese photographer who had the same idea as me... quickly we exchanged big smiles. Impossible to communicate because he didn't speak a word of English. Ah, the language barrier...

At one point he handed me his camera, then, understanding that he wanted to take a look at my photos, I handed him my camera to exchange. I was looking at his pictures... him, mine... it was nice.

The meal ended without being able to exchange a single word... just a few hand gestures, smiles and then that was it. It's a shame.

Water Lily or Lotus ... not easy to distinguish

Lotus flower or water lily?

Not easy to tell one from the other...

These two flowers are not part of the same family. The lotus has the leaves above the water and the water lily at water level.

The petals of the water lilies are elongated and pointed, while those of the lotus are more round and voluptuous.

The leaves are also different: round and serrated for the water lily, with a green bladder colour and an almost waxy texture, the water lily leaf lets the water slide. 

The lotus leaf is "peeled": perfectly circular, with the petiole fixed in the centre (on the reverse side of the leaf, of course). There are no slits to allow the rain to drain off. Instead, the leaf is hydrophobic and the raindrops bead on its surface and then run off from the margin, pushed by the wind. Leaves are floating early in the season, but those that form later rise above the water on solid petioles.

So I've come to the conclusion that the flowers seen on these bodies of water are... water lilies...


Small family video made after the accident... and which shows you the way to visit this huge historical park of Sukhothai...

 Dormir sur Place

Some views of a small hotel found on the spot, 2 minutes from the historical park of Sukhothai.
The welcome was very pleasant, and the room absolutely perfect. A place I can recommend without hesitation.