Phetchburi is located in western Thailand, 165 kilometers from Bangkok on the road to Phetkasem. In the west of the province there are many mountains that belong to the Tanaovasri Mountains and delimit Thailand from Burma. The plain to the east of the city is part of the large plain around the Gulf of Thailand. Phetchburi is located on the Phetchburi River, which flows into the sea at Ampoe Ban Leam.
Phetchburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand. The City like other cities in Suwannaphum and in the Dvaravadi empire probably belonged to the Mons. When Nakorn Sri Thammarat extended his rule over Dvaravdi and the Khmer Empire in the 9th century, Phetchburi also became dependent on it, because according to a legend, a Prince from Nakorn Sri Thammarat ruled over Phetchburi. Wat Kampaeng Laeng is a prime example of the Khmer influence on the region before it became a Buddhist temple. In the 14th century, when the Thais established their rule over central Suwannaphum, Phetchburi was subjugated. The inscription on the Ramkhamhaengstone mentions Phetchburi as a city of the Sukhothai Empire.
In the Chronicle of Ayutthaya, Phetchburi is mentioned several times, mostly in connection with invasion and rebellion. It is said that this city was given different names by foreigners “Pipry” Even in the earlier Bangkok period the city was known as “Muang Prippri”. The earlier name from the Sukhothai period only became popular again during the reign of King Rama IV and has remained in existence ever since.
Phetchburi is one of the old cities that fortunately was not conquered and looted by the Burmese in 1767. There you can still find a number of places and sights that have been preserved in good condition.
This Palace on a mountain,95 meters high called “Mahaisawan” became popularly known as “Kao Wang”. King Rama IV had this palace built in 1858, a mixture of European, Thai and Chinese style elements.
Mount Mahaisawan has three peaks. Most important is the palace building on the west side. In the middle there is a Stupa called Phra That Chomphet, on the eastern tip there is a royal temple, Wat Phra Kaeo. King Rama IV visited Phetchburi often and stayed there for a long time. King Rama V also visited the temple at the beginning of his reign. In its time Phetchburi was a reception center for foreign state guests and was at that time a kind of vacation spot in the country.
However, Phra Nakorn Kiri subsequently lost its importance and was uninhabited. In 1953 it became a historical place. The palace was restored between 1982 and 1987.
Interesting sights are :
The horse stable on both sides of the street
On the first floor there are two large halls, the second floor contains a large hall and two bedrooms, the north of which is that of the queen.
The last two halls mentioned, Phetchapum Pairot and Pramot Mahaisawan, served as a museum during their time, in which the following pieces are exhibited:
This tower is called “Glass Tower or Observatory, because King Rama IV was an astronomer and had this building built for his astronomical study. At that time the royal flag was seen in front of the tower as a sign when his majesty was on the tower.
Here is a stupa, Phra that Chompet, which was built by King Rama IV. The Chedi is 40 meters high and 20 meters wide. Inside the foundation there is a round room with a large pillar in the middle. Four entrances lead to the room from which one can come up to the balustrade. From the balustrade you have a good view over the whole city of Phetchburi.
Wat Phra Kaeo is on this mountain. The temple contains a Bot, the Phra Suttha Chedi, a bell tower, Phra Prang Daeng and a pavilion.
The Bot is small with a marble wall and a colored tile roof. In the bot there used to be a crystal Buddha statue. After the time of Rama IV, this statue was transported to Bangkok and a marble Buddha was placed here.
The Phra Sutta Chedi is behind the Bot, a round Chedi made of marble on a square base 3 meters wide. The Chedi is 9 meters high and made of gray – green marble from Si Chang Island.
The bell tower is in front of the Bot and has jagged edges
Phra Prang Daeng, a building with breakthrough work. In the lower part of the Prang, in which there is a Buddha statue, there are pillared halls on four sides with four entrances to the Prang.
The temple was built on the hill south-east of Phranakorn Kiri. From the main street on the way to the palace there is a side street that leads to Wat Mahasomnaram.
This temple was restored and renamed on behalf of King Rama IV after the construction of the Phra Nakorn Kiri Palace. In the Wat you can find the wall painting by the famous painter Krua In Khong on four walls, which shows people worshiping the Buddha’s footprint as well as other holy places such as Phra Pathom Chedi and Phra Borom That Nakorn Sri Thammarat. This wall painting is the only one by the master Krua In Khong in his hometown of Phetchburi.
The temple is located south-east of the Pra nakorn Kiri Palace at the foot of the Kao Mahaisawan. It contains a lying Buddha statue made of brick and plaster of 42.9 meters. Many archaeologists claim that the statue shows the Ayutthaya style and was erected during the reign of King Borom kot as two of his wives were from Phetchburi. The statue was originally in the open. Later, king MongKut (Rama IV) had a roof built over it, which was repaired in the time of king Chulalongkorn (Rama V).
At the foot of the mountain on the eastern side you can find this temple, the construction of which – due to the foundation of the Bot – can be dated back to the Ayutthaya period. The temple contains a very beautiful column base and a beautiful Buddha statue. The stucco work on both the gable wall and the column base is the best example of the stucco work of the Ayutthaya period.
This temple is located in the city center. The five grand towers are worth mentioning. The tower with a veranda on the four sides is 42 meters high and surrounded by smaller towers. It was probably built in the Khmer style of Mahayana Buddhism and has undergone several restorations. The main statue in the bot is a crowned Buddha.
Three well-known Buddha statues should also be mentioned: Luang Po Mahathat, Luang Po Banleam, (originally from Ban Leam, Samut Songkram province) and Luang Po kao Takrao (originally from Wat kao Takrao, where the Phetburi River has its mouth).
Wat Koh kaeo Suttharam is another ancient temple from the Ayutthaya period. The wall painting in the Bot dates from 1734 during the reign of King Borom Kot. The pictures depict scenes from the life of Buddha as well as from the Buddhist cosmology Traipum. Due to the reversed position of the painting themes, it seems quite possible that the main Buddha statues have been rearranged, presumably because the temple got a different entrance on the newly built street.
The temple has a laterite wall, hence its name. It was probably originally a Hindu shrine, as a figure of the Hindu goddess U-Ma was found here in 1956.
An interesting attraction of this temple are the five laterite monuments, which – with a distance of 20 meters each stand to the east. Each monument has the shape of a Prang with four vestibules and a jagged corner. The lined up towers resemble the Prasart Sikhorapum in Ban Ra Ngae, in the province of Surin. If these five laterite monuments were supposed to come from the same time as the Prasart, this was made in the 12th century.
The temple was built during the Ayutthaya period. Although the landmark around the Bot and the Buddha statue behind the main Buddha characterize the style of olden times, this hypothesis is not yet accepted. Originally the temple was called “Wat Yai”. Later it got a new name after a respected monk from Phetchburi during the reign of King Sri Sanphet VIII – Phra Suwanmuni or Somdet Taeng Mo, who restored the temple. However, people named the temple after its old name and added the new name – Wat Yai Suwannaram the name was officially accepted. The temple contains the following interesting objects:
The Bot, built in Ayutthaya style with glass decoration on the gable wall and a decorated overhanging roof edge. At the end of the eastern gable there is a plaster garuda surrounded by motifs arranged in a circle and at the end of the western gable there are further stucco figures of Deva on Asura surrounded by flame motifs.
There is no window on the wall in the north and south of the Bot, but the front wall has two huge towers and a large high window as well as door frames that were painted red on the outside, while the inside shows colorful guards. Rows of umbrellas are placed above the main Buddha statue made of brick and plaster of paris with a knee span of 2.2 meters, which is in a sitting position.
The high column base shows a distorted lotus decoration with colored mosaic glasses. In front of the statue there are three more lying Buddhas while they overpower the Mara. You can find two Buddha figures in a meditating position in the next row.
At one end the figure of Somdet Chao Taeng Mo and at the other end the former abbot who carried out the restoration of the Wats in the time of king Ramas V. Another bronze Buddha figure with a knee span of 1.40 meters can be found on the wall behind the main statue. This Buddha has six toes on the right foot. It has been claimed that before the main restoration in the Ayutthaya period, this statue originally represented the main character in the Bot.
The Vihan with a gallery on two sides of the Bot is right in front of the building. In the Vihan there is the Chulamani Chedi, which is 2.50 meters high.
The Sacred Stone are doubled, there are two stones on the back side on top of each other. The column base with jagged corners like a stupa is made of brick and plaster. Because of their shape, it is said that the landmarks, like the Buddha figure with six toes on the right foot, date from the pre-Ayutthaya period. The gallery around the Bot is from a later time. Divided into units with double roofs, roof ends and decorated gutters, the gallery resembles a miniature Vihan.
The gallery used to contain 117 statues of Buddha, including 12 standing Buddhas and 105 seated ones. At the end of the gable is the sign of king Rama V a Thai 5 on a plaque with a small sword on it.
Sala Kanparien is a large pavilion 30 meters long and 10 meters wide behind the Bot. The roof consists of two rows one above the other, the ends and overhanging roof edges were decorated with colored glass, the gable wall is characterized as a magnificent stucco model. There are five early gateways leading to the pavilion, which contains two large sermon seats. The panels of the front door show a very fine inlaid glass work depicting animal figures. The filling on the right is marked, probably by the sword of a Burmese on his way to the conquest of Ayutthaya in 1764. This story, however, remains a legend.
There are two buildings for storing Buddhist inscriptions. The old building is a one-story wooden house in Thai style in the middle of the pond with a small bridge as access to the building. The new building is next to the abbot’s residential unit, a two-story building built in 1927.