Nakhon Pathom Tourist Attractions
The only indication that the city of Nakhon Pathom, about 50 km (31 mi.) west of Bangkok, once stood on the Gulf of Thailand is the evidence in history books. In fact the rivers of the central plain accumulated so much silt and sand that the sea retreated those thirty odd miles, but despite its changed geographical setting Nakhon Pathom continues as a thriving trading city. It also holds within its walls the greatest Buddhist monument in Thailand and beyond, the Phra Pathom Chedi.By car: Highway 4 (Petchkasem Highway) from Bangkok (56 km (35 mi.)).By rail: an hour from Bangkok-Hualampong.By bus: from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal every 30 minutes from 5am. Tour operators offer day excursions, often linked with a visit to the floating market at Damnoen Saduak and the Rose Garden.Although the earliest origins of Nakhon Pathom are shrouded in legend, the city is certainly one of the oldest on Thai soil. In the 3rd c. bc King Ashoka (273-231 bc), who ruled over a great Indian empire, sent missionary monks to where the city stands today to preach the new doctrine of (Theravada) Buddhism. This must have been when the first chedi was built on the Phra Pathom site, but nothing is known of what it looked like.Nakhon Pathom certainly existed after ad 675, when it was the center of the city state of King Chaisiri (also Chaisi or Sirichai). Most of the population were Mon descendants, their culture very much influenced by the Indo-Buddhist Gupta style (as is borne out by finds of stone wheels of the law, Buddha figures, etc. from this period).Nakhon Pathom followed U Thong as capital of the mighty Dvaravati kingdom. The wealth of the city is attested to by its entitlement to its own coinage; 7th/8th c. silver coins have the symbol of wealth on one side - a cow and calf, or a vase of flowers - and an inscription in Sanskrit on the other, reading "Sridvaravati Svarapunya" (credit of the Dvaravati King). Whether the Dvaravati Kingdom and its capital of Nakhon Pathom were conquered by the Burmese under King Annarudha is uncertain; historians tend to suppose it was destroyed either by King Suryavarman I (1002-50) or Jayavarman VII (1181-1218). The city then faded into oblivion, and most of its occupants left to found the new city of Nakhon Chaisi on the right bank of the Ta Chin river, where it still is today. The Phra Pathom Chedi was gradually swallowed up by the jungle. Its importance was not recognized again until Rama IV, King Mongkut, made a pilgrimage to the chedi during his time as a monk. When he came to the throne in 1851 he ordered its restoration. Since the old temple was in ruins he built a new chedi over the original Khmer dome-shaped shrine. This was actually finished by his successor, King Chulalongkorn, since part of the building collapsed during a storm.
The tallest Buddhist monument in the world, the Phra Patham Chedi stands at 387 feet. The Chedi is located within a square park on a circular terrace.
At the western edge of the city, approaching on Highway 4 from Bangkok, there is a whitewashed prang on a square base. This is supposed to be the oldest Buddhist building in Thailand, older even than Phra Pathom Chedi. Close by archaeologists have discovered traces of the foundations and terrace of a sacred building, fragments of friezes decorated with figures, and several images of Buddha.
Sanam Chan Palace
In 1910, before he came to the throne, Rama VI built the Sanam Chan Palace in the north-west of the town. Standing in large grounds and connected by a broad avenue to the west gate of the Chedi, it has some interesting buildings in a mixture of Thai and European styles. The audience chamber has been kept in the Bangkok style. A little shrine contains the Hindu god Ganesha, with the head of an elephant and a human body with many arms. The curious statue of a dog in front of the Chali Mongkol Asana, as the building is called, is probably meant to be Ya Le, the favorite dog of King Rama IV. These buildings now house provincial government offices.
Wat Phra Ngam
Wat Phra Ngam, west of Nakhon Pathom railway station, was built in the Bangkok style by King Chulalongkorn on the foundations of a Dvaravati temple.
The Rose Garden, 32 km (20 mi.) south-west of Bangkok on the way to Nakhon Pathom, covers 20 ha (49 acres), and its mainly Italian gardens are popular with golfers (18-hole golf course) and tired city-dwellers. There are restaurants on the Menam Chao Phraya serving western, Chinese and Thai food, and bungalow hotels, some with swimming pools and tennis courts. These need to be booked in good time, especially for Christmas and Easter.The entertainment at 3 o'clock every afternoon gives visitors an opportunity to watch - and above all photograph - domestic and rural Thai ceremonies, elephants at work, traditional Thai dancing, sports and games, and to follow this with an elephant ride.
Nakhon Pathom Pictures
Map of Nakhon Pathom Attractions