The Buddha’s head cradled in intertwining tree roots is a compelling and evocative image at Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya Historical Park. My father even thought the two are one entity and when I showed him the picture, he asked me “how did the tree roots grow into the shape of a Buddha’s face?”
The Buddha’s head survived the attack from the Burmese army in the 1760’s, the crushing powers of tree roots, and yet still smiling, as if letting us know – all is well.
Wat Mahathat was the royal monastery in which the initial construction begun in 1374, and was later completed during 1388- 1395. The “wat” is the largest in the Ayutthaya Historical Park with countless of ancients structures and Buddha statues to admire your way through. Some structures are still standing firm after more than 600 years,
some are leaning,
some are under restoration,
while some are in rubbles, where you could only imagine the ruins were perhaps once a ceremonial hall or an altar for prayers.
The sight of hundreds of decapitated and dismembered Buddha statues dispersed throughout the temple is devastatingly stunning.
The Buddha statues are “made-do” with miscellaneous parts; pieced together like incomplete jigsaw puzzles.
Visiting Wat Mahathat was extraordinary. It was serene yet a little forlorn with headless Buddhas that witnessed the rise and fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
Ayutthaya Historical Park on Wikipedia
Entrance Fee: 50 Baht for foreigners and 10 Baht for locals.
Getting there : Ayutthaya can be easily visited as a day trip from Bangkok. You can take the sky train to the Victory Monument Station’ he mini vans station is just across from Victory Monument Station. The mini buses leave once they get filled up. Rate is about 120 Baht per person. Journey is 1.5 Hours.