Wat Phanan Choeng
After touring the ruins of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, the next Wat I visited was the Wat Phanan Choeng. It looked like a modern temple complex. But the truth, which I found so hard to believe, was that it belonged to 14th century. The fourteen meters wide and nineteen meters tall image of seated Buddha, made of mortar, primed with black lacquer and covered with gold leaf was built in 1344. The present form however was attained after many repairs. The last repair was done by Royal Institute in 1929 after the face started developing cracks.
Standing at the base, my jaw dropped wide open seeing the glitter of this majestic huge image. There were men standing in the palm of the statue like Lilliputians (click to enlarge the picture and see). I was lucky to be there then to witness the ritual of merit transfer. Men standing up there were wrapping the statue with saffron robes; there was one man at the shoulder too. The robe was then used to cover the devotees and worshipers sitting down below. One of the priests there was chanting hymns and prayers. After the completion of the ritual, the robes were pulled away gently, folded and kept away for the next session.
If ever you visit this Wat and you find a huge crowd, wait patiently, watch the ritual, it is worth it. I found it the most active temple complex of Ayuthaya, with many devotees inside. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for weekenders from Bangkok.
As I walked around, I saw many many more Buddha images of all sizes. The picture below is of the wall just behind the image which had around 84,000 niches. Each of them housed small idols of Buddha. Devotees make offerings, donations, place their idol of Buddha in the niches and pray for good luck.
Outside there was a small Chinese shrine made in honor of a Chinese princess who died, rather killed herself, because her husband the King of Ayuthaya did not go personally to receive her. I could not visit this because of lack of time and I could not do one more thing, that was buying a bag of fish from the vendors there and release it in the river flowing just beside the Wat. It is supposed to bring in luck.
Ayuthaya requires at least two to three days of stay there if you intend to visit and explore each of the Wats.