Nonthaburi is a town rich in culture with a long history dating back some 400 years to the Ayutthaya period. Starting out as a small settlement on the quiet riverside, it grew in importance due to the proximity to Bangkok, when it became the new capital. One of the main attractions in the area is the Nonthaburi Museum, originally built in 1910 and housed the King’s College. The institution founded by King Rama V taught law and English to young boys as part of the King’s efforts to prepare the kingdom for globalization.
Nonthaburi’s long history is also visible in the profusion of temples in the area. Here is a brief overview of the Wats of Nonthaburi.
The first is Wat Khemaphirataram which dates back to the Ayutthaya period and was restored by Queen Srisuriyentramart, a consort of King Rama II. The temple is followed by Wat Chaloemphrakiat, built in 1847 by King Rama III in memory of his mother. It is very beautiful and often used as a location for shooting period dramas for television.
Further along the banks of the river is Wat Khae Nok which was established by Thai-Mon people in 1824 and played a crucial part in the bloodless revolution in 1932 which eventually led to Thailand’s foundation of today’s democracy. A notable feature of the temple is the bell tower, shaped like a lotus flower in bloom. North of that landmark are two ancient temple structures of Wat Choeng Tha and Wat Na Bot, which are preserved
Then it was on to Wat Chimphlee Sutthawas, another venerable old temple on Koh Kret, an island in the river where the descendants of Mon immigrants still live, adhering to many of the customs of their ancestors. We then strolled the 700m or so toWat Paramaiyikawat, site of the island’s best-known landmark, a pagoda which leans over at a precarious angle. Along the way, one can stop to shop for local goods, such as pottery, vegetables and traditional desserts. Later, we crossed the river to visit Wat Bang Chak and pay our respects to the largest Buddha statue in the whole province.
Located on Koh Kret, an island in the Chao Phraya well known for its Mon culture and pottery, Wat Paramaiyikawat was built by Mon immigrants during the Thon Buri period and restored by King Rama V. Before the restoration it was called Wat Pak Ao, or Wat Phiamukia Toeng by the locals. Its ordination hall is decorated with murals which combine elements of traditional Thai and Western art. Yet, the pride of the temple is really the giant reclining Buddha statue in the assembly hall, while the best-known feature of this temple is its leaning pagoda which began tilting more than a century ago due to soil erosion caused by the adjacent river.
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