Si Satchanalai Historical Park

Chedis at Wat Chedi Jet Thaew, Si Satchanalai Historical Park

 

Si Satchanalai has been declared a World Heritage site. While it offers similar Sukhothai era temples and monuments, it is much less visited than Sukhothai. The old city of Si Satchanalai is situated in present day Sukhothai province, and can be reached by car from Sukhothai in about one hour (northern direction).
The old city of Si Satchanalai is considered the sister city of historic Sukhothai, and existed contemporary with Sukhothai. Direct family members of the Kings of Sukhothai usually ruled nearby Si Satchanalai. During the reign of King Li Thai (1347-1368) many temples were built and restored at Si Satchanalai.
Three km southeast of the city of Si Satchanalai lies another old historic town called Chaliang, which is believed to already have existed during Khmer rule, and therefore is older than Si Satchanalai.

Wat Chang Lom, Si Satchanalai Historical Park

 

There are historic monuments located inside and outside the old city walls. Inside the city walls important temples include : Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Jet Thaew, Wat Nang Phaya.
Wat Chang Lom is located almost at the centre of historic Si Satchanalai. The most important historic building at this temple is the main chedi in Sri Lankan Style. As similar temples at Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai, the base of the temple consists of sculptures of elephants. 39 elephants surround the temple. Contrary to what is seen at other temples, the elephants at Wat Chang Lom are standing and very tall.

Wat Chedi Jet Thaew is located opposite Wat Chang Lom. It is a large compount which contains 7 rows of chedis. The chedis reflect various art styles, including Sri Lankan, Pagan an Srivijaya styles. Many chedis also have a so called lotus bud on top.

Lotus Bud Chedi at Wat Chedi Jet Thaew, Si Satchanalai Historical Park

 

Another important chedi, located within the old city walls, is Wat Nang Phaya, in Sri Lankan style.

Wat Phra Si Ratanamanhathat is located to the southeast of Si Satchanalai. It was founded before the Sukhothai era. The main shrine, an imposing Prang type monument probably dates from the Ayutthaya period, but it was built over another pre-Sukhothai stupa or chedi.
Wat Chao Chan is located closeby. It also contains a Khmer-style prang similar to the later prangs in Lopburi. It was probably built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1217).
It may be wise to hire a bicycle if you want to visit the monuments outside of the city walls.

Aspiring young artists are plentiful at the Si Satchanalai Historical Park

 

Si Satchanalai was an important center for ceramic production and many kilns are scattered around the area. The pottery from this era is usually called Sawankhalok (Sangkalok). There is an interesting small museum (with attached excavated kiln) located at Chaliang and operated by the Si Satchanalai Centre for Study and Preservation of Sangkalok Kilns. Another museum is Sawanworanayok Museum, located in present Sawankhalok town.

Sources : The Office of Archaeology, Fine Arts Department, publishes an excellent about 150 pages softcover book with lots of illustrations. The title says it all : "Guide to Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet Historical Parks". We only saw it on sale at the Si Satchanalai Park though. Price seems to vary between 80 and 110 baht per copy, a real bargain (and a rather nominal price) if you are remotely interested in Thai history and historical Thai monuments.