Si Satchanalai Historical Park (อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์ศรีสัชนาลัย) is located at Tambon Mueang Kao, a.k.a. Kaeng Luang, which is 11km off Amphoe Si Satchanalai towards Amphoe Sawankhalok or some 550km from Bangkok. It was renamed during the reign of a king in the Phra Ruang Dynasty when a new administrative centre was established to replace Chaliang. Ruins of 204 monuments out of 215 places have been discovered within the park.
Si Satchanalai Historical Park is open daily from 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. Admission is 40 baht. There is an entry charge for vehicles (10 – 50 baht), and the tram service costs 30 baht. Contact the park office (tel. +66-5567-9211) to arrange guides.
Major places of interest include:
- Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat (วัดพระศรีรัตนมหาธาตุ). Also known as Wat Phra Borommathat Mueang Chaliang or Wat Phra Prang, Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat is situated 3km outside and to the southeast of the ancient Si Satchanalai’s wall. This large historic temple complex is a 1st-class royal temple. Important buildings include the main prang built from blocks of laterite covered with lime plaster. Architectural characteristics of the prang tower indicate that it could be dated to the Ayutthaya period. A staircase in front of the huge prang leads to a relic chamber and the prang’s wall sees faded mural paintings. In front of this reliquary are remains of a large wihan enshrining an image of the Buddha subduing Mara. To the right features a beautiful stucco image of the Buddha walking. The 60 x 90 metre rectangular wall is made of large rounded laterite columns arranged closely together. The entrance gate is topped with a spire featuring the stucco relief faces of Bodhisattva. The Mon-style pagoda known as Phrathat Mutao is located behind the principal prang tower, outside the demarcation wall. During excavation in 1992, fragments of gold plates for decorating the spire of the chedi were found. Mondop Phra Attharot is located behind the Phrathat Mutao Pagoda. Presumably, it was originally a mondop housing Buddha images in 4 postures, which was later altered. A standing Buddha image is present in the roofless mondop, formerly covered with earthen tile roofing. The laterite Wihan Phra Song Phi Nong image hall is located to the left of Mondop Phra Attharot. On the platform are enshrined 2 stucco images of the Buddha subduing Mara. From archaeological evidence, Wihan Song Phi Nong was built upon a former brick structure. To the right features the base of the Buddha's footprint. The ordination hall is in front of the wihan. It underwent a restoration by the temple by constructing a brand new one over the old ordination hall. The Kuti Phra Ruang Phra Lue Monk’s dwelling, aka. Phra Ruang Phra Lue Shrine, resembles a mondop. It has a wide square base and 4-layered brick mondop roofing. Inside is enshrined a replica of the Phra Ruang Phra Lue statue.
- Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng (วัดเขาพนมเพลิง). This is a hilltop temple within the old town of Si Satchanalai. The prominent landmarks are the principal circular stupa and a laterite mondop, where its base is high and square in shape, with a pointed arch roof and stairways leading up to the mondop. This is locally known as the Chaomae La-ong Samli Shrine. The temple is accessible from Wat Kaeng Luang via 2 stairways in the front and sideways. The steps leading from the foot of the hill to the temple are also made of laterite blocks. There are travellers’ pavilions along both ways.
Wat Khao Suwan Khiri (วัดเขาสุวรรณคีรี) Located 200 metres west of Khao Phanom Phloeng, Wat Khao Suwan Khiri basically sits on another hilltop of the same range. A huge bell-shaped laterite chedi stands on a 5-tiered plinth base that served as a circumambulation platform. There are 4 niches in 4 directions enshrining images of the Buddha. Around the mast of the chatra – umbrella - on top of the chedi features stucco figures of Buddha walking, which are similar to those at Wat Chang Lom. Behind the principal chedi houses a circular stupa encircled by a laterite wall.
- Wat Chang Lom (วัดช้างล้อม). Located within the old town of Si Satchanalai, this temple is on the plain, south of Khao Phanom Phloeng. The prominent landmark of Wat Chang Lom is the bell-shaped chedi of Ceylonese influence situated on a square base inside a square boundary wall. Its platform is supported by 39 stucco elephant sculptures with 4 of them at the 4 corners elaborately decorated around the necks, thighs, and ankles. The steps in front lead to the chedi's circumambulation platform. Above the platform features niches each enshrine an image of the Buddha subduing Mara. The wall of the niche features a relief of the Bodhi Tree behind the Buddha image. However, there is only one Buddha image left in the north - the rest are ruined. Above the bell body of the chedi is the square Buddha’s seat or throne upon which the mast of the chatra arises. The mast is decorated with bas-relief of Lord Buddha’s 17 noble disciples walking all around. A wihan is in front of the principal chedi. In addition, there are 2 smaller wihans and 2 subordinate chedis. The sculptures of elephants at Wat Chang Lom here in Si Satchanalai are quite different from those found at other temples. These represent the free-standing elephants and are taller than the live elephant, each having a stucco lotus bud in the front.
- Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo (วัดเจดีย์เจ็ดแถว). Located in front of Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo is one of the most beautiful temples in Sukhothai Province. Chedis of different artistic styles and influences, especially of the pure Sukhothai style and a mixture of Sri Vijaya and Sukhothai styles, were built within the area of this temple. The important buildings in this temple are the main chedi with a lotus-bud shape top, which is located behind the wihan, and 33 subordinate chedis and buildings. A demarcation wall surrounds all. An ordination hall and well are outside the wall. The subordinate chedis bear various styles of art such as Ceylonese and Pagan influences. Behind the customary main chedi lies a unique chedi rai or small satellite chedi with its square shaped base and circular topmost. Within the chedi is enshrined a stucco figure of a standing Buddha. Mural paintings inside depict the past Buddha, as well as, deities, and kings. At the back of the chedi’s relic chamber is a niche of a seated Buddha image protected by the seven-headed naga. This temple has been called Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo, which means the temple with 7 rows of chedis, because there are many subordinate chedis here. Prince Damrongrajanuphap suggested that this might be the temple where the cremated remains of the Sukhothai royal family were kept.
- Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Yai (วัดสวนแก้วอุทยานใหญ่). Located within the city wall, not far from Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo. The prominent landmark includes the principal laterite circular stupa, which the bell-shaped part has already collapsed. A staircase in front leads from the wihan’s back porch to the bell-shaped body where a Buddha image is enshrined. In front of the principal chedi, there is a wihan with front and back porches. There are 5 staircases leading up to the wihan. The wihan’s columns and temple’s boundary wall are constructed from laterite.
- Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Noi or Wat Sa Kaeo (วัดสวนแก้วอุทยานน้อยหรือวัดสระแก้ว). Located 200 metres from Wat Chang Lom, the layout plan of Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Noi include buildings encircled by a demarcation wall, front gate, back gate, and main chedi in a lotus-bud shape. In addition, behind the wihan features a shrine in the form of a mondop with a pointed arched roof enshrining an image of the Buddha subduing Mara.
- Wat Nang Phaya (วัดนางพญา) Adjacent to Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Yai, Wat Nang Phaya is famous for its delicate stucco reliefs on the remains of the northwestern wall of the 7-roomed wihan or image hall. The principal circular stupa is supported by a circumambulation base. The relic chamber of the chedi housing its core decorated by stucco relief is accessible by a set of stairs from the front. The wihan building is made of laterite blocks with front and back porches. The wall was made into slit windows to let in light. The exterior face of the wihan’s southern walls is decorated with highly elaborated stucco of creatures - half man half monkey – running. However, part of it has already been destroyed. Other elaborated stucco includes plants and angels in adoration bearing the art style of the early Ayutthaya period.
- Wat Chom Chuen (วัดชมชื่น), which is 400 metres east of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, is situated by the Yom River. The prominent landmark includes the principal circular stupa made of laterite, where a laterite 6-roomed wihan with a front porch is in front of it. The back of the wihan is connected to a mondop, which resembles a dimmed room. The mondop has laterite gable roofing. The front on both sides of mondop features 2 niches. At the back also features a niche, where a seated Buddha image protected by the seven-headed naga was formerly enshrined. However, it has now disappeared. In addition, this mondop is decorated with beautiful stucco on the back pediment.
From the archaeological excavations conducted at the depth of 7 – 8 metres in front of the wihan, 15 skeletons were found. These human skeletons are suggested to be datable around the 4th century - Dvaravati Period, around the 7th – 11th century. In addition, evidence yield traces of large brick buildings and many Chaliang wares were unearthed. These are dated to the 12th century – Sukhothai era.
Si Satchanalai National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติศรีสัชนาลัย) Si Satchanalai National Park, formerly called Pa Kha or Pa Kha Luang, is located at Ban Pa Kha, Mu 6, Tambon Ban Kaeng. It was initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej to conserve the water source and natural resources. With a total area of 319 square kilometres, the park covers the areas of Amphoe Si Satchanalai and Amphoe Thung Saliam of Sukhothai Province, as well as, Amphoe Thoen of Lampang Province. The general geography of this national park is a large lalang field, as well as, high, undulating mountains. These mountains are the source of many streams such as Huai Tha Phae. The floras here include mixed deciduous forest, deciduous dipterocarp forest, and hill evergreen forest. This is also home to many fauna such as Indochinese ground squirrel, Asian golden cat, common palm civet, Sumatran serow, and Siamese big-headed turtle. Si Satchanalai National Park was proclaimed a national park on 8 May, 1981.
Interesting tourist spots in the park include:
Namtok Tat Duean (น้ำตกตาดเดือน): Located 300 metres from the park headquarters, this waterfall originates from the stream Huai Mae Tha Phae. It becomes a large rock terrace and pool for relaxation.
Tham Khangkhao (ถ้ำค้างคาว): Situated some 20km from the park headquarters, Tham Khangkhao or bat cave is home to some 100,000 bats. There are amazing scenes of plentiful stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Tham Thara Wasan (ถ้ำธาราวสันต์): This cave is situated about 1.5km from the park headquarters. It also features marvellous stalactite and stalagmite formations. Prominent flora and fauna found within the cave’s compound include Dracaena loureiri Gagnep and Sumatran serow.
Namtok Huai Sai Khao (น้ำตกห้วยทรายขาว): This waterfall is located some 3km from the park headquarters. Namtok Huai Sai Khao takes its source from Huai Sai Khao running pass the rock terrace and cascades into a small pool. The waterfall runs through 7 cataracts. It, basically, sits in the middle of a valley surrounded by a forest.
Namtok Tat Dao (น้ำตกตาดดาว): This large and beautiful waterfall takes its source from Huai Mae Tha Phae. It cascades like a curtain through 2 cataracts of a wide and steep cliff, which measures 50 metres in height. It is located some 4km on foot from the park headquarters.
In this connection, the park also offers 2 trekking routes: firstly, the Chom Tawan route, which takes its course along the mountain slope. It is moderately steep. The path passes water channels at some points. Mixed deciduous forest surrounds all. Tourists can enjoy the scenic view of the park and sunrise. There are 14 stations along this route. Nature interpretation signs are available along the way. This route takes 2 – 3 hours. The total distance is 5,500 metres. Secondly, Huai Mae Tha Phae route, which goes in a circle. Along the way, tourists will see many animals like butterflies, common barking dear, common wild pig, and squirrels. Flora includes a cluster of mixed deciduous forest and dry evergreen forest. This route takes 1 hour. The total distance is 2km.
Admission fees: Admission fees for children and adults are 200 and 400 baht, respectively.
Accommodation: The park provides 6 houses, which can each accommodate 6 -10 people at 600 – 2,000 baht/night. A fee of 30 baht will be charged per person per night for those who bring their own tents. Alternatively, rental tents are available at 225 baht, which can accommodate 2 - 8 people. For more details, contact Si Satchanalai National Park, PO. BOX 10, Tambon Ban Kaeng, Amphoe Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai 64130, Tel. 0 5561 9214 – 5 or Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora, Bangkhen, Bangkok, Tel. 0 2562 0760, and .
To get there: By car, from Sukhothai, 2 routes are available at tourists disposal. Firstly, from the provincial city of Sukhothai, proceed along Highway No. 12 (Sukhothai – Tak route) by making a detour for 15km. Turn right onto Highway No. 1113. At Sarachit junction, take a left turn onto Highway No. 1294 before reaching the park. The total distance is 100km. Secondly, from the provincial city of Sukhothai, proceed along Highway No. 101 (Sukhothai – Si Satchanalai route). When arriving in Amphoe Si Satchanalai, turn left and pass the Si Satchanalai Hospital. Proceed along Highway No. 1035 for 11km. Take a right turn onto Highway No. 1249 before reaching the park. The total distance is 122km.
By bus, the local bus service operates once a day from opposite the Si Satchanalai Police Station before noon. The trip takes 50 minutes.
Centre for Study and Preservation of Sangkhalok Kilns (ศูนย์ศึกษาและอนุรักษ์เตาสังคโลก (เตาทุเรียง)) This is located at Ban Ko Noi, some 6.5km to the north of Si Satchanalai by the Yom River. Within a distance of 1km, more than 500 kilns have been excavated up to now. This compound is considered the industrial area of Si Satchanalai. Numerous celadon wares in perfect and broken conditions have been discovered. The kiln is oval in shape with a curved roof like that of a ferryboat and is 7-8 metres long.
The centre consists of 2 buildings situated on the kiln site area with 2 kilns Nos. 42 (ground level) and 61 (underground) exhibited in situ. There are also exhibitions on artefacts, academic documents, and on the evolution of ancient ceramic wares. The centre is open daily during 9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. Admission is 30 baht.
To get there, drive for approximately 6.5km to the north of Si Satchanalai Historical Park to Ban Ko Noi, where the remains of ancient kilns can be seen scattered around. The centre is also accessible by the Highway No.1201 from Amphoe Si Satchanalai, a distance of 7km with the buildings located on the left.
Si Satchanalai Elephant Back Ordination Procession (ประเพณีบวชพระแห่นาคด้วยช้างของชาวหาดเสี้ยว) A traditional ceremony of the Thai Phuan, citizens of Ban Hat Siao, Si Satchanalai Elephant Back Ordination Procession or Buat Chang is held annually during 7-8 April at Ban Hat Siao, Amphoe Si Satchanalai. The 7th is the crux of the event, when a procession takes place. On the 8th features a spectacular procession of ordination candidates in colourful costumes on the backs of some 20-30 decorated elephants. The ordination ceremony includes head shaving, bathing, and dressing up candidates, as well as, elephants. The procession is held around the village and the Si Satchanalai District Office, Tel: 0 5567 1466.
Songkran Festival (งานประเพณีสรงน้ำโอยทาน สงกรานต์ศรีสัชนาลัย) An annual celebration of the Thai New Year is held during 12 - 13 April at Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Amphoe Si Satchanalai; this festival carries forward Sukhothai’s tradition. It was mentioned in the famous stone inscription “The Sukhothai people are generous, abide by precepts, and always give charity”, which is believed to be inscribed during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The highlights of the event include the elephant procession, offering rituals to pay respect to Phra Suea Mueang, the tutelary spirit, and kings from the Phra Ruang Dynasty, Miss Songkran beauty queen contest, local sport competitions, and cultural performances.
- Ko Noi Group (กลุ่มชาวบ้านเกาะน้อย) Products: local made pottery.
- Ban Hat Siao (บ้านหาดเสี้ยว) Products: 9-pattern Pha Sin Tin Chok or hand-woven woman’s sarong, Pha Khao Ma or loincloth used by men, and shawls. The hand-woven fabric of Ban Hat Siao is renowned for its beautiful patterns. Almost all houses in this district own a loom. Traditional hand-woven fabric shops are available everywhere.
- Roeng (เริง) 406 Sawankhalok – Si Satchanalai Road, Tambon Hat Siao
(opposite George Sa shop), Tel: 0 5567 1129, 0 5567 2955, Products: traditional hand-woven fabric and Pha Sin Tin Chok.
- Sathon (สาธร) 477 Mu 2, Tambon Hat Siao, Tel/Fax: 0 5567 1143. The
shop houses the Gold Textile Museum and sells silver/gold brocade Pha Sin Tin Chok, garment of candidates for ordination, Pha Sin Tin Chok with Dok Khia pattern, and Tin Chok Ban Nam Pat. Free admission and open daily from 7.00 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.
- Kulap (กุหลาบ) 473 Mu 2 Si Satchanalai – Sawankhalok Road (near the Caltex gas station), Tambon Hat Siao, Tel: 0 5567 1151, (Thai cuisine), service hours: 10.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
- Wang Yom Resort (วังยม รีสอร์ท) 78/2 Mu 6, Tambon Si Satchanalai, Phra Ruang Road,Tel: 0 5563 1380, 08 1283 4220, 4 rooms: 800 – 1,000 Baht.
- Si Satchanalai Resort (ศรีสัชนาลัย รีสอร์ท) 240 Mu. 2, Tambon Nong O, Tel: 0 5567 2666, 08 9780 5100, Fax: 0 5567 2666, 32 rooms: 400 – 1,200 Baht.
--(WT-en) globe-trotter 13:47, 5 February 2010 (EST)