Faith and Flowers ~ Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, Sukhothai (IV)

Orange red flame tree blossoms in front of a Sukhothai-era tower ruin.

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.

Ceylonese-style temple with Thai elephant carvings.

The Ceylonese-style Wat Chang Rop is adorned with 68 elephants (chang) which surround the base.

Carved elephants at the base of a laterite temple.

Although weathered and badly broken, the half-elephants are unmistakeable.

Red-orange Royal Poinciana plowers.

Called “hang nok yoong” (peacock tail) in Thai, the flame trees (Delonix Regia) splash colour all around Wat Chang Rop.

Green grass and trees, laterite temple ruins.

The ruins of Wat Chang Rop buildings are almost hidden by trees.

Back of a Sukhothai-era Buddha image

Wat Phra Singa, built during the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras, is flanked by frangipani trees.

Close up: frangipani tree with pink blossoms.

Pink and cream frangipani, Wat Phra Shinga

Back of a Buddha in a gold sash on a  laterite pedestal.

Flame trees in the background: Wat Phra Singa.

Green leaves on laterite steps.

Green weeds: Wat Phra Singa.

Buddha in a shrine housing

Small Shrine

Laterite-brick Buddha in a shrine

Ancient Buddha

Thai gardener in straw hat and long sleeves

A gardener, in typical Thai labourer-garb, tends the lawns.

A standing Buddha: A Mondop at Wat Phra Si Iriyabot

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.

Yellow flag: 2500 years since Buddha

At Wat Phra Si Iriyabot, preparations were being put into place to celebrate the 2500 years since Buddha’s enlightenment.

Thai labourer on a scaffolding

A worker, in soft leather shoes, builds a scaffolding…

Three Thai workers in hats and long sleeves steady a scaffolding.

… while four Thai women, covered against the sun, steady the base.

Laterite window.

Laterite walls enclose Wat Phra Non.

Bell-shaped laterite chedi

The bell-shaped chedi of Wat Phra Non sports fresh green growth at the top.

Thai workers seated on grass in the shade.

At Wat Phra Kaeo, in the centre of the ruins, workers gather for a break.

Ruined carved elephants, Wat Phra Kaeo, Kamphaeng Phet

Carved elephants surround the base of Wat Phra Kaeo in the centre of Kamphaeng Phet.

Backs of various-sized seated Buddhas, Wat Phra Kaeo

Seated Buddhas of all sizes, Wat Phra Kaeo, Kamphaeng Phet.

Large Sukhothai-period reclining Buddha.

Reclining Buddha, Wat Phra Kaeo.

Large stone head of a reclining Buddha.

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!

Dried Lotus flowers on a woven red mat.

At the entrance to the modern Wat Phra Kaeo, lotus was being dried…

Gold leaf on a Thai Bodhisattva head.

… and gold leaf is offered to a more modern Bodhisattva made from plastic.

Text: Happy TravelsStill, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and faith is in the practice.

Happy travels.

Pictures: 23May2012

  • Guava - September 13, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    Another great set of photos Ursula. Brightened up my afternoon (^___^)ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - September 13, 2012 - 3:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Guava! Glad you enjoyed them. 😀ReplyCancel

  • gabe - September 13, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    a nice way to start the dayReplyCancel

  • Signe Westerberg - September 14, 2012 - 12:15 am

    This has to be one of my favourites, the gentleness of the trees overshadowing the ruins, almost like nature taking it back however beautifully maintained so the perception is there and the reality not… just lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Kevin Dowie - September 14, 2012 - 3:48 am

    Another nice photo essay Ursula,
    I’m a little envious. I’m currently in Thailand and was hoping to get to Sukhothai, it was one of the main reasons I made the trip. Sadly the area is currently effected by flooding, making my visiting the area problematic.
    grumble… 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - September 15, 2012 - 9:23 am

      So sorry to hear that Thailand is flooding again, Kevin! We all went through last year, and management programs were supposed to be put into effect to mitigate future flooring… Clearly not sufficient. 🙁 I hope you enjoy yourself anyway – the country has SO much to offer.

      Thanks as always to Signe and Gabe for taking the time to read and comment! 🙂ReplyCancel

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