The Sukhothai kingdom (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรสุโขทัย (Pronunciation)) was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai, in north central Thailand. The Kingdom existed from 1238 till 1438. The old capital, now 12 km outside of New Sukhothai in Tambon Mueang Kao, is in ruins and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage historical park.
The Sukhothai Historical Park (Thai: อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์สุโขทัย (Pronunciation)) covers the ruins of Sukhothai, capital of the Sukhothai kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries, in what is now the north of Thailand. It is located near the modern city of Sukhothai, capital of the province with the same name.
The city walls form a rectangle about 2 km east-west by 1.6 km north-south. There are 193 ruins on 70 square kilometers of land. There is a gate in the centre of each wall. Inside are the remains of the royal palace and twenty-six temples, the largest being Wat Mahathat. The park is maintained by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand with help from UNESCO, which has declared it a World Heritage Site. The park sees thousands of visitors each year, who marvel at the ancient Buddha figures, palace buildings and ruined temples. The park is easily toured by bicycle or even on foot.
The protection of the area was first announced in the Royal Gazette on June 6, 1962. In 1976 the restoration project was approved, and in July 1988 the park was officially opened. On December 12, 1991, it was declared a World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns together with the associated historic parks in Kamphaeng Phet and Si Satchanalai.
Tourist Attractions: Inside the City Walls - Outside the City Walls
Wat Si Chum Sukhothai
Wat Si Chum is unique amongSukhothai temples. Inside, lining theceiling of a dark and narrow staircaseleading to the open roof, are 86 in-scribed stone reliefs depicting jatakas,the former lives of Gotama Buddha.Their unique character and arrange-ment have puzzled generations ofscholars. In this original volume, a teamof experts presents the latest evidenceand new solutions. The book offers thefirst-ever English translation of the in-scriptions, photographs of the reliefssupplemented by 19th century jatakapaintings from Wat Khrua Wan,Bangkok, essays on all aspects of thetemple, as well as a discussion of thesignificance of jatakas in internationalBuddhist literature, art and ideology
The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat The royal palace lies in the centre of the town. This area is surrounded by a moat and contains two main compounds; the royal building and the sanctuary in the palace. In the royal compound exists the ruins of the royal building called Noen Phrasat
Here, the famous stone inscription of King Ramkhamhaeng was found by King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the 19th century together with a piece of the stone throne called "Manangkhasila Asana" King Ramhamhaeng set up the throne in the midst of a sugarpalm grove where , at his request, a monk preached on Buddhist Sabbath days and the King conducted the affairs of state on other days This throne was later installed in Bangkok is temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Traphang-Ngoen Situated to the west of Wat Mahathat is Wat Traphang-Ngoen with its square pedestal, main sanctuary, and stucco standing Buddha image in four inches. There is a viharn in front, and in the east of the pond, there is an island with an ubosot. This edifice has already crumbled and only its pedestal and laterite columns still remain. Many monuments and magnificent scenery are visible from this location.
Wat Chana-Songkhram Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is Wat Chana-Songkhram. It main sanctuary is around Singhalese-style chedi. In front of the chedi exists the best of a viharn and behind the farmer stands an ubosot. Bases of twelve small chedis are also visible. Near Charot Withi Thong Road is a strange chedi having three bases, one on top of the other.
Wat Sa-Si Situated near Wat Chanasongkhram is Wat Sa-Si. Around a Singgalese-style chedi is the main sanctuary on and island in the middle of Traphang Trakuan Pond. A large viharn contains a stucco Buddha image. To the south stands nine chedis of differente sizes.
San-Ta-Pha-Saeng OR Deity Shrine Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is San-Ta-Pha-Dang. This monument consists of only one laterite prang with a staircase in the front. Sandstone Hindu divine object ( Lop Buri-style ) were discovered here.
King Ramkhamhaeng Monument Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is the King Ramkhamhaeng Monument. The bronze statue of King Ramkhamhaeng sits on a throne named Phra-Thaen-Manangkhasila-Asana with a base relief recording his life.
Wat Mai Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is Wat Mai. Wat Mai, having a brick viharn as the main sanctuary, is in Ayutthaya style. The columns of the viharn are made of laterite. A bronze image of the Buddha under a naga, ( Lop Buri-style ) was found here and is now preserved in the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum.
The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum was built in 1960 and opened on 25 January, 1964. The museum collection includes gifts from the ex-abbot of Wat Ratchathani and art objects unearthed in Sukhothai and near by provinces. It is open daily from 09.00-16.00 hrs. Admission fee 30 baht. Tel. (005) 612167
Wat Traphang-Tong Situated to the east of Wat Mahathat is Wat Traphang-Tong. The monastery is located on an island in the middle of a large pond. A ruined laterite Singhalese-style chedi is on the island. In front of it, a new mondop contains the Lord Buddha's Footprint slab that was created by King Lithai in 1390 on Samanakut or Phra Bat Yai Hill. This footprint was remove to the new mondop some year ago. An annual fair to worship this sacred Lord Buddha's Footprint takes place at the same time as the Loi Krathong Festival.