Lying midway between Chiang Mai and Bangkok is Sukhothai. With a name that means ‘dawn of happiness’ in Sanskrit, this beautiful city was once the country’s capital city, and is now home to a myriad of ruins which have truly stood the test of time.
This UNESCO World Heritage site has become increasingly popular with foreign tourists as the ancient city has been remarkably well preserved and restored, giving tangible insight into how people lived and worshipped deities over 800 years ago.
The temple of Wat Sorasak is lined with elephants along its base, seemingly holding up the chedi (bell-like tower). Elephants have always played an important role in Thailand’s history, symbolizing wealth and power, and also in Buddhism, where they are seen as the protector of Buddhist beliefs.
Wat Mae Chon was originally made up of five expansive chambers. Now, all that is left is a well restored Buddha image. It is facing towards the rising run, thus catching the day’s first light.
Wat Si Chum is one of the most striking Buddhist temples in the ancient city. Still being encased in its original room, the enormous religious statue peers down on its worshippers, who pay their respects by placing gold leaf on its fingers.
Known as the Phra Achana Buddha image, which means ‘one who is not disturbed’, the fingers of the statues point down towards the earth, demonstrating its grounded ideologies.
Wat Sa Si is a striking monument, created in a Sri Lankan bell-shaped style.
The most important of all the temples in ancient Sukhothai is Wat Mahathat, located in the heart of the city.
This was the city’s main temple, consisting of 200 chedis. It is an elaborate complex full of Thai and Khmer influenced architecture.
Located south of Wat Mahathat is Wat Si Sawai, due to its architecture it is originally it is thought of as being Hindu, before being changed to a Buddhist temple.
As well as its architecture, Sukhothai is also a bustling province, home to over 600,000 residents. Be sure to also explore the amazing night markets.