Lopburi

Lopburi

Geography

Lopburi Province is located in the eastern part of the central region. The distance to Bangkok is 154 kilometers by road. The extreme west of the province is formed by a plain through which the Lopburi River flows. The north and east are mainly hill country. The city of Lopburi is located on the left bank of the river – this in turn flows into the Pasak at Ayutthaya.

History

Lopburi is an old city with historical significance. A large number of areas from the Dvaravdi period (7-11 centuries) and from the Lopburi period (7-13 centuries) have been found here. During the Ayutthaya period it became an important outpost of the kingdom. Its importance lasted until the Bangkok period. The people who originally settled on Lopburi were the “Lavah” who belonged to the tribe of the Mon. This is why the city was given the name “Lavah”, which became “Lavahpura” and finally “Lopburi”. When the Khmer advanced west, Lavah fell around 950 and was declared the capital of the Khmer possessions in the Chao Phra Ya plain. In the 14th century, the Thais became strong enough to retake Lavah from the Khmer.

The chronicle says that King U-Thong appointed his son, Prince Ramesuan, to rule Lopburi in 1350. So it became the second most important city after the Capital.The prince had two city walls built to make it a fortress against enemy troops. These walls were torn down during the reign of King Mahachakrapat (1549 – 1568) in case, if the city fell victim to the enemy and could thus be used against Ayutthaya. Lopburi lost its importance after Prince Ramesuan left the city to become king in Ayutthaya. It gained weight again during the reign of King Narais (1656 – 1688), who restored the city with the help of French and Italian architects, whose influence can still be seen in the structure of the palace and fortresses.

King Narais stayed in Lopburi until his death. After his rule, the entire administration was moved back to Ayutthaya and Lopburi sank into insignificance until 1863, when King Rama IV of Bangkok ordered a major restoration program and had the Piman Mongkut Hall converted into his residence. After Thailand became a democracy, Lopburi became a military center. The part east of the railway forms the new town, while the part west of the railway contains most of the cities of historical interest.

Places to Visit
Phra Narai Ratchanivet

This palace was built at the time of King Narai, but it was only given its official name later by King Rama IV after he had it restored. Phra Narai Ratchanivet is surrounded by thick walls. The entrance shows a mixture of Hindu and Khmer art. The area of ​​the palace is divided into three sections – the outer courtyard, the middle courtyard and the inner courtyard.

The water Tank

The water supply for the palace was ensured by a pipe system from the “Talay Chubsorn” an inland lake some distance away. The water stayed in an opened Tank.

The Royal Warehouses (Phra Klang Suparat)

A collection of 12 buildings near the water point where royal property was stored. In the old days, business with foreign traders had to be carried out through the Royal Chancellery. Now only ruins are left of the twelve buildings.

Stable

These were used for the elephants and horses in royal possession and were built near the wall of the central courtyard.

Tuk Phra Chao Hao

At the south-eastern corner of the outer courtyard, a building with a rectangular base, 10 meters wide and 20 meters long. Only the walls are still standing today, but the decoration on the doors and windows can still be seen.

The building was probably used for King Narai’s audiences. Its historical significance lies in an affair of treason against the Tron, which was planned here while the king was seriously ill in Sutthasawan Hall.

Hall of the Royal Guests

North of the Tuk Phra Chao Hao near the water point. A French style building that probably served as accommodation for royal guests.

The Chanthorn Phisan Hall

A Thai style building constructed in 1665 and used by King Narai until Sutthasawan Hall was completed. Later King Narais audience hall. Restoration work under the rule of King Rama the Fourth has ensured that it is still in good condition and can now be used as a museum. Most of the exhibits are Buddha images.

A collection of halls

Built in 1863 by Rama IV for his residence. Four buildings belong to this group. The Piman MongKut Hall for the Royal Suite, the Sutthivinichai Hall, which was used for meetings with government officials and discussing state affairs, and the Aksorn-Sastrakom Hall for the royal office. King Rama V gave this hall to the city as a place for a town hall.

  • The Dusitsawan Thanya Mahaprasart Hall

Built by King Narai for foreign audiences. The structure was a mix of Thai and Western architecture. The front part was in French style, the back part in Thai style. The French ambassador in King Narai’s time reported that the hall had mirrors on the walls imported from France and the ceiling was divided into four geometrical areas decorated with gold floral motifs and Chinese crystals. In the middle of the hall is the throne from which King Narai received the foreign ambassadors.

  • The women’s chambers

Behind the Dusitsawan Thanya Mahaprasart are some small buildings that were used to house the female members of the Royal Family when Rama IV visited Lopburi.

  • Sutthasawan Hall 

The Sutthsawan Hall, the King Narai residence was built some distance from other buildings. There are probably gardens in the large surrounding area, as the traces of fountains can still be seen there. King Narai lived in this palace until his death. At a time when he was very ill, he learned of the conspiracy against his throne. In order to create a shelter for his followers, he had the palace made into a temple. Therefore, when Rama IV was planning to restore the palace, he had to cancel this order and build another temple to replace it in the city.

Phra Prang Sam Yot

Close to the railway line. The structure consists of three prangs in a row. The decorations in either section are still sharp and clear down to the last detail, while the lower section is not as distinct – it may have been repaired in King Narai’s time.

The three-tier prang was built under the rule of Jayavarman VII (1181-1217), who adhered to Mahayana Buddhism and had a number of Buddhist monuments built, especially Phra Prang Sam Yot in Lopburi and Prasart Muang Singh in Kanchanaburi.

The function of the three prangs in a row is that the middle tower is dedicated to buddha, the southern bodhisattva Avalokitasavara and the northern Prajnaparamit, the goddess of wisdom in Mahayana, who is sometimes called the mother of the Buddhas.

King Narai had a Bot built east of the middle pavilion and set up a large stone statue of the Buddha as the main figure. Now she is in the open.

Prang Khaek

In the center of the old city. This prang was previously a Hindu shrine that was built in the 10th century and is now considered the oldest Khmer prang, which was found in the central regions and is 300 years older than Phra Prang Sam Yot.It consists of three towers Brick, but these are – unlike Phra Prang Sam Yot – not connected to each other. Only the middle tower is still standing, of the two sides only the foundation walls can be seen. The door frame of the middle tower resembles a wooden frame. The brick decorations inside the tower are made in the style of the 10th century.

House of the official guests

This was built under the rule of King Narai to accommodate foreign ambassadors who came to royal audiences.The system is divided into three sections. The eastern end forms the chapel for the ambassadors and the Christian clergy in Lopburi, the central part the living quarters, and the eastern end the main hall. Behind it is the water point.

The Phra Kan Shrine

The shrine contains a stone statue of Vishnu with a Buddha head. Before that, the statue of Vishnu stood headless until someone put a Buddha head on it. This piece is very well known and is highly revered in Lopburi. The tamed monkeys that are present in large numbers and use the shrine as a place of residence are a special tourist attraction.

Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat

This temple is the oldest and most famous in Lopburi. The main rank is the highest in the city. It had previously been assumed that it was from the same time as Angor Wat, which means that it would belong to the late 12th century. According to more recent findings, however, it is from the 14th century, the time when the Thais had conquered “Lavah” from the Khmer. The style of Prang belongs to the U – Thong school.

In front of the Prang is a Vihan that was built under the rule of King Narai. This very large Vihan has Thai doors and Gothic windows. There are also Stupas of different styles in temples.

The Kraisorn Siharat Hall

Commonly known as Phra Thinang Yen. This hall is located outside the city and was built by King Narai on what was once an island in an inland lake, the Talay Chubsorn. The lake has now dried up. Only the walls and the foundation walls remain of the hall. To the side there were small rooms which certainly served as accommodation for the king’s servants.

King Narai’s statue

This statue stands in the center of the “Thepstri circle”. It shows the king with a sword in his right hand, looking east. The base bears inscriptions that attest to his achievements. The statue was created in 1966 for over a million baht.