Wat Phra Mahathat, Chaiya
Wat Phra Mahathat, a short distance out of the town on the road (4011) leading west from the railway station, is one of the most highly venerated temples in southern Thailand. Though twice restored (in 1901 and again in 1930), the 8th-9th c. central stupa, the oldest part of the wall-encircled temple complex, appears very much in its original form. It is a fine example of Srivijaya architecture with a strong Javanese influence (compare, for instance, the Borobodur temple complex in Java). The temple, as in Borobodur, is supported on a square base with sills around it, the walls being embellished with small blind porches and several little stupas crowning the triple-tiered roof. Although probably of later date, the chedi is also of considerable interest. Near by is a small museum containing copies of the statues found in Chaiya, some of which are quite exceptional (the originals being in the National Museum in Bangkok). Also on display in the museum is the famous bronze statue known as the "Grahi Buddha". While the Buddha figure itself shows clear Mons influence, the naga is just as clearly Khmer in style. Historians attribute the work either to two different periods or two different sculptors, suggesting it is possibly transitional in origin.