From the ruins at the Ayutthaya Historical Park, we moved on to the Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit, southwest of Phra Si Sanphet and south of the Royal Palace ruins. As with any temple visit, we were required to remove our shoes.  What is remarkable here is the gigantic Phra Mongkhon Bophit (Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious Reverence), the Ayutthaya bronze Buddha installed in the viharn. It is similar to the Ayutthaya-style bronze Buddha in Wat  Phanan Choeng at the southeast corner of old Ayutthaya.

Phra Mongkhon Bophit Temple

The bronze Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand, was sculpted in 1538 during the reign of King Chairacha (r. 1534-1547) at Wat Chi Chiang Sai. It had previously been damaged by lightning and was restored in the Rama V period. The vihara building we see today was rebuilt during the rule of Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram in the early 20th century.”  Its Buddha was previously enshrine in a mandapa (square-roofed structure). However, during the reign of King Sua (r. 1703-1709), it was recorded that when lightning struck the spire of this building, the roof caved in and the bronze head broke off.

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

King Sua had the mandapa demolished and a new tall preaching hall built.  The vihara and the image were badly destroyed by fire during the fall of Ayutthaya in April 1767. The roof of the vihara was damaged and the head and the right arm of the image were broken. In 1920, the broken head and right arm were repaired by Phraya Boran Rachathanin during the reign of King Rama VI. In 1931, another restoration took place with the financial support of Khunying Amares Sombat.  During restoration works on the statue in 1955, a quantity of Buddha images were found on the left shoulder of Phra Mongkhon Bophit. These images can now be seen at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.

The Prime Minister of Burma on official visit in Ayutthaya in 1956 gave a donation for the restoration of the vihara. The vihara was finalised in 1957, but not with the same beautiful craftsmanship of the former one.  The statue of Phra Mongkhon Bophit was covered with gold leaf in 1992 by the Mongkhon Bophit Foundation, in celebration of the 60th birthday of H.M. Queen Sirikit. The Phra Mongkhon Bophit, seated in the position of Subduing Mara, measures about 9.5 m. across the lap and a height of 12.5 m. (without the pedestal).

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