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Chao Phraya River Gateway To The World

Feb, 20 || Comments Off on Chao Phraya River Gateway To The World |

Chao Phraya River Gateway To The World

The Chao Phraya River Gateway To The World

The Chao Phraya River was once Thailand’s gateway to the world. Diplomatic relations, trade and commerce during the Ayutthaya period flourished here thanks to the grand river. Serving as the nation’s lifeline. the Chao Phraya River has nourished the kingdom of Rattanakosin and transformed it into present day Bangkok. Traces of history are therefore abundant on both sides of the river. Dating back 200 years, during the early period of the Rattanakosin era, the riverbanks on both sides were cluttered with cargo and foreign envoys’ ships. The pier at the Rama I Memorial Bridge served not only as the main platform for overseas traders who sailed to Rattanakosin Vichayuth Fort located in the west, but also as a location used for guarding the city from potential enemies from the sea and as a customs checkpoint.

Santa Cruz Church Located not far from the Rama I Memorial Bridge, this neo-classic Catholic Church is a frequented destination for the faithful from the nearby community. People come here for both morning and evening masses. Many have descended from Portuguese ancestors who traveled to Siam during the Ayutthaya period as tradesmen, mercenaries or courtiers who worked for the royal court. The fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 brought about drastic changes and left the whole nation in a state of disarray. Thais and foreigners alike fled for their lives. About 400 Catholic priests and Portuguese people relocated to the Kudee Cheen (Chinese shrine) community in Bangkok. In 1769. When King Taksin fought the Burmese troops and won back independence, he bestowed the land of Baan Kudee Cheen to the Portuguese for the construction of the Catholic Church.

Chinese Kudee

Guan Un Keng Chinese Shrine Not far from Santa Cruz Church is a Chinese shrine called Guan Un Keng where Hokkien and Tae Chiew Chinese settled prior to the period of King Taksin’s reign. The presence of the ancient spirit is prominent throughout the temple. It is marked on the ceramic sheets adorning the dragon atop the shrine’s roof, as well as the wooden crosspiece carved with the pattern of ancient Chinese warriors. The wall with the drawing of Chinese people in various postures is exquisite and well maintained despite its age of over 300 years. Thai Buddhist Temple in the Chinese milieu: Wat Kalayanamitr The temple was built in 1825 and is located at the end of the riverbank. The statue of Phra Putta Trirattanayok (Abbot To) is enshrined inside the temple where you can also find the chapel. Wat Kalayanamitr , similar to Wat Phananchoeng. which seats the principal Buddha image located in the heart of the community of Ayutthaya. was considered to be one of the most important temples built under the royal command of King Rama III. Wat Kalayanamitr is the spiritual center of Thai people and Thais with Chinese origin. It is believed that whoever has a chance to pay respect to Luang Per To. also known as “Sam Po Kong” by the Chinese. will remain unharmed while traveling and make many good friends. Muslim House of Faith: Bang Luang Mosque

From Wat Kalayanamitr. we walked through the other side of the gate on Arun Amarin Road. The little alley in Soi Arun Amarin 7 led us to Bang Luang mosque  unique as the one and only mosque built in the style of a Buddhist temple.

During the second fall of the Ayutthaya kingdom, a number of Muslim residents fled from Burmese invaders and lived on rafts in the Bangkok Yai canal. They gathered together to build a mosque. which due to its red color, was later known as “Kudee Dang” [red shrine]. When the place became run down, a new mosque was erected to replace the previous one. This new mosque may have the resemblance of a Thai Buddhist temple: however, each and every part of the building truly reflects Islam. The 30 pillars around the mosque represent 30 commandments of the Quran. Twelve windows in the prayer room plus one door represent the thirteen rules followed when performing ‘Salat’ (an act of praying and worshipping the Allah). There is also a preaching platform built in the form of a Thai pavilion with triple spires on which a wood carving of Arabic words is subtly attached.

The exotic sight of Bang Luang mosque set amidst a diverse cultural landscape suggests that maybe the Chinese artisans wanted to show us that different lifestyles Thai. Chinese, Muslim and westerners — can co-exist. Despite the differences, the three religions generate a unique. beautiful blend of diversity.

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