Faith and Flowers ~ Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, Sukhothai (IV)
Flame trees abound at Wat Chang Rop, one of the ruins in Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park.
Thailand is a treasure-trove of tropical plant life and ancient religious ruins.
I like it best when the two coincide, as they do in Kamphaeng Phet: crumbling temples located on spacious well-tended sites, shaded by trees.
Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is part of the awkwardly-named UNESCO World Heritage Site: “Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns” which, as I have mentioned before, includes Sukhothai itself, Sukhothai North and Si Sachanalai. We enjoyed exploring all the ruins, but Kamphaeng Phet seemed particularly lovely; at least in part because the surrounding trees protected the ruins (and us) from the worst of the pounding May heat.
All the Sukhothai sites date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, but Kamphaeng Phet (Fortress Wall of Diamond Strength), with its strategic importance, has some ruins from the later Ayutthaya era as well.
The Ceylonese-style Wat Chang Rop is adorned with 68 elephants (chang) which surround the base.
Although weathered and badly broken, the half-elephants are unmistakeable.
Called “hang nok yoong” (peacock tail) in Thai, the flame trees (Delonix Regia) splash colour all around Wat Chang Rop.
The ruins of Wat Chang Rop buildings are almost hidden by trees.
Wat Phra Singa, built during the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras, is flanked by frangipani trees.
Pink and cream frangipani, Wat Phra Shinga
Flame trees in the background: Wat Phra Singa.
Green weeds: Wat Phra Singa.
A gardener, in typical Thai labourer-garb, tends the lawns.
A standing Buddha is all that remains of the Buddhas in four postures that used to be around the mondop at Wat Phra Si Iriyabot.
At Wat Phra Si Iriyabot, preparations were being put into place to celebrate the 2500 years since Buddha’s enlightenment.
A worker, in soft leather shoes, builds a scaffolding…
… while four Thai women, covered against the sun, steady the base.
Laterite walls enclose Wat Phra Non.
The bell-shaped chedi of Wat Phra Non sports fresh green growth at the top.
At Wat Phra Kaeo, in the centre of the ruins, workers gather for a break.
Carved elephants surround the base of Wat Phra Kaeo in the centre of Kamphaeng Phet.
Seated Buddhas of all sizes, Wat Phra Kaeo, Kamphaeng Phet.
Reclining Buddha, Wat Phra Kaeo.
The face of calm: reclining Buddha, Wat Phra Kaeo.
There is always a contrast between the ancient ruins and the modern temples in their day-to-day practice. The newer areas of Wat Phra Kaeo were no exception: there were still flowers and Buddha images, but just not the same!
At the entrance to the modern Wat Phra Kaeo, lotus was being dried…
… and gold leaf is offered to a more modern Bodhisattva made from plastic.
Still, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and faith is in the practice.