A big Khmer style temple in Sukhothai
There are plenty of big temples in Sukhothai Historical Park. If you’ve already seen Wat Phai Luang then you’ll know what the ruins of a Khmer style temple look like. However I do encourage you to seek out Wat Si Sawai (Wat Sri Savaya) just south of Wat Mahathat to see a much more complete Khmer style temple.
What’s more Wat Si Sawai is set in a very peaceful setting surrounded by green trees, a small moat and a stone wall. It’s makes for a good spot to stop and have that packed lunch!
History of Wat Si Sawai
As you come from Wat Mahathat the first common sight of Wat Si Sawai is across the small moat are the three Khmer style Phrangs are visible. Prior to the 12th &-13th century War Si Sawai was a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. Wat Si Sawai is accredited as being one of the oldest temples in Sukhothai Historical Park.
During the Kingdom of Sukhothai it was converted to a Buddhist temple. With assembly halls added later in the 14th century.
Art & architecture of Wat Si Sawai
Wat Si Sawai has some of the best relief (stucco) work in all Sukhothai. As you enter Wat Si Sawai from the front vihan you’ll see typical Khmer slat windows looking out over the white stucco covered prangs.
The central prang is over 15 meters in height with the others about 2 meters shorter. Construction of the Prangs began in the 12th century but were halted during a shift in power from Sukhothai to the kingdom of Ayutthaya when they were finished in the 15th century.
The three prangs themselves are marked with reliefs showing Buddha images, Kirtimukha faces, Kala images and Makaras. Such works of art continues on stuccos depicting mythical half-human, half-animal figures.
Each of the prangs also contain shrines to Buddha but are now empty.
Over by the entrance there is a depiction of the Hindu deity Vishnu leaning on Ananta Shesha, the King of the Naga serpents.
The main assembly hall or viharn was constructed much later,
Around Wat Si Sawai
Archaeological digs around the area have uncovered Chinese porcelains and Hindu statues. Today the surrounding area is grassy and peaceful. To the east of the main temple is a tree line area which makes for a lovely place to stop and have a rest.
It’s here and to the other side that you’ll see the ruins of the other viharns which did not stand the test of time too well. They are of a similar construction to the surrounding wall.
If you enjoy the history of Thai temples. Are doing a full day trip around Sukhothai Historical Park. Or are just looking for a nice temple area to sit and read for while then Wat Si Sawai makes a great place to visit.
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