Monday, December 22, 2008

Thailand's Central Ang Thong Province

Central,Ang Thong Province

Ang Thong (Thai: อ่างทอง) is one of the central provinces (changwat) of Thailand.

Noted for huge reclining Buddha, courageous heroes, court dolls, famous wickerwork, drum-making region, double reclining Buddha, etc.

The neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Sing Buri, Lopburi, Ayutthaya and Suphanburi.

It is luxurious of native handicraft like, molded court dolls, firebrick, and wickerwork. In Ang Thong, there are more than 200 magnificent and interesting temples, appropriate for Thai chronological study.
Geography
Ang Thong is a low river flat, crossed by the Chao Phraya and the Noi river. It has neither mountains nor forests, but consists of mostly agricultural land. The two rivers together with many canals (khlongs) provide enough water for rice farming.
History
Ang Thong was historically known as Wiset Chai Chan, located on the Noi River. It formed an important border town of the Ayutthaya kingdom during the wars with Burma, as the Noi river served as a natural obstacle for advancing troops.

During the reign of king Taksin after the fall of Ayutthaya the main city of the province was moved to the Chao Phraya river, and named Ang Thong, as the Noi river had become too shallow for transportation.

The name Ang Thong means 'gold basin', surmised to come from the basin-like geography of the area, and the golden color of the rice grown in the region.

Ang Thong is the origin of Li Ke, the native folk song, hometown of Nai Dok and Nai Thongkaeo, the two heroes during Bang Rachan Battle.
Symbols
The provincial seal shows some golden ears of rice in a bowl of water. This symbolizes the fertility of province as one of the major producers of rice.

Provincial tree is the Gaub Tree (Diospyros malabarica).
Administrative divisions
The province is subdivided into 7 districts (Amphoe). The districts are further subdivided into 81 communes (tambon) and 513 villages (muban).

1. Mueang Ang Thong
2. Chaiyo
3. Pa Mok
4. Pho Thong



5. Sawaeng Ha
6. Wiset Chai Chan
7. Samko

Tourism

Sites

Wat Phinitthammasan Main attractions are the old wihan constructed in the late Ayutthaya period and the large seated Buddha image made of plaster in the posture of subduing Mara built in the first Chiang Saen batch with the lap width of approximately 12 meters, enshrined in the open.

Wat Ratchapaksi (Nok) In this temple, there is a large reclining Buddha similar to the one enshrined in Wat Pa Mok, but of a little smaller size. The image was assumed to have been constructed during the Ayutthaya period.

Wat Suwansewariyaram The wihan houses approximately 20 meters in length of a reclining Buddha image. Other ancient relics are about 100 years old.

Wat Mathurotsatiyaram This temple was assumed to have been constructed in the late Ayutthaya period. The only evidence remains are crystal wall, ubosot, chedi, and wihan standing on the appropriate positions with magnificent figures.

Wat Chantharangsi Areas of this temple cover both sides of the road. On one side, there is a sacred Buddha image called “Luangpho Yok”. On the other side, it locates wihan of Luangpho Sod which houses the metal image, the largest of its kind in the world, was constructed in 1996.

City Pillar Shrine This is the second city pillar shrine having mural paintings on the four interior walls. (The first city pillar shrine with mural paintings is City Pillar Shrine in Bangkok.) Ang Thong City Pillar Shrine is an exquisitely sacred place appropriate as a focus of victory and people’s heart.

Aquarium Here you can find a lot of huge Amazon serpent-headed fish and other native fish like rad (gouramy), sawai (genus Pangasius), thepo (genus Pangasius), etc.

Wat Ang Thong Worawihan This is the third-class royal monastery opposite Ang Thong City Hall. This temple is famous for its beautiful ubosot and bell-shaped chedi decorated with gold mirror.

Wat Tonson is an ancient temple housing Somdet Phra Si Mueangthong, a very beautiful seated Buddha image in the posture of subduing Mara. This is regarded as one of the largest metal moulded Buddha images with beautiful posture.

Thai-Style House Models, Thai-Style House Prefabricated Parts, Toddy Palm Furniture. This is a center producing Thai-style house prefabricated parts of all types by sophisticated handicraft inherited from the ancestors to remain Thai-style uniqueness. Besides, there are Thai-style house models and furniture made of several types of Toddy palm trees available for pale.

Wat Plotsat In the temple compound, there is a tower made of brick, whose unique summit is covered with Ceylon-style chedi pagoda seen from a distance.

Somchit Roengpho Mixed Orchard This orchard was accredited with Mixed Orchard and 2001 International Feminine Farmer Awards. Khun Somchit grows mixed fruits on the land of 13 rai (5.2 acres) and rice fields on the land of 10 rai.
Wat Tha Suthawat

Wat Tha Sutthawat This ancient temple was constructed in the early Ayutthaya period. At present, this temple is under the royal patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The temple compound is shaded with large trees exhibiting magnificent scene over the bank of the Chao Phraya River.

Ban Bang Sadet Court Doll Center is a high raised Thai house behind Wat Tha Sutthawat in Tambon Ban Bang Sadet. The establishment of Ban Bang Sadet Court Doll Project was initiated by Her Majesty the Queen in 1976. Its main purpose is to help the villagers earn supplementary income.

Wat Sa Kaeo This temple has become the orphans care center with many children under supervision. Inside Wat Sa Kaeo, there is “Samakkhisamakhan” building, which is a center for hand woven fabrics project under Her Majesty the Queen’s initiation established in 1981, currently under the supervision of Cottage Industry Section, Ministry of Industry.
Wat Pa Mok

Wat Pa Mok Worawihan In the temple compound, there is a beautiful gilded reclining Buddha made of brick, and plaster. Besides the reclining Buddha, this temple is famous for wihan Khian, where the wall confronting to the river has a tall stand formerly used by the King, mondop of 4-foot prints, and tower of monastic library, etc.

Wat Thanon A wooden Buddha image in the standing posture, carved in a human size of approximately more than 2 meters, is enshrined in the wihan called “Luangpho Phraphut Rampueng”. People, who pay homage to this temple, like to make wishes and prove them by placing the eggs in front of the Buddha image. Whoever can make the egg stands, he/she has good luck.

Drum-Making Village People of Ban Phae have begun producing drums since 1927 after the harvesting season. The raw materials used are cowhide and rain tree wood because its texture is soft and able to be dug easily.

Ang Thong Brick is a high quality household industry for domestic sales. Most people use this kind of brick to decorate external parts of the buildings and houses.

Phanthai Norasing Monument This monument was built in 1988 to commemorate the steersman of Ekkachai royal barge in the reign of King Phrachao Suea. The steersman confirmed to receive an execution for not able to control the barge well enough and let it bump into branches and broke the royal barge front.

Wat Phohom (Wat Pahuaphan) Attractions in this temple are 2 large stucco of four-face Bhrama heads, found from the excavation of this temple placed on trays beside chedi. The object reveals original workmanship of a Khmer-style sculpture.

Wat Chaiyo Worawihan or Wat Ket Chaiyo This is the second-class royal monastery. Inside the ubosot, there are mural paintings depicting scenes of the Lord Buddha’s chronicles painted by the artisan in the reign of King Rama V, and the moulded statue of Somdet Phra Phutthachan (To Phromrangsi) from Thonburi.

Wat Saket is an ancient temple, built in the Ayutthaya period. In the Royal Chronicle, it is mentioned that in 1585 when Phrachao Chiangmai led his army to encamp at Ban Saket, King Naresuan the Great and Somdet Phra Ekathotsarot attacked and finally defeated Phrachao Chiangmai’s army.

Wat Ta It Villagers called the principal Buddha image in the ubosot as “Luangpho Phetch”, while the principal Buddha image in the wihan was called “Luangpho Khao”. When entering the temple, the outstanding “Phrathat Chedi Sri Phothong” in gold can easily be seen.

Wickerwork Village: The noted wickerwork area of the province is in “Ban Bangchaocha”. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited this village and advised people to grow Sisuk bamboo as for their raw materials and for conservation of this handicraft category.

Bats at Wat Chantharam: Inside the precinct of this temple is crowded with trees, which have become habitats for numerous basted birds for centuries. These bats look for food at night, whereas during daytime, they hang themselves upside down along the black-color branches to be seen from distance.
Wat Khun Inthapramun

Wat Khun Inthapramun It is an ancient temple constructed in the Sukhothai period. The largest and longest reclining Buddha in Thailand, 50 meters from the topknot to the feet, is enshrined here. Moreover, within Wat Khun Inthapramun compound, there are historical remains of basement, some parts of walls, and Buddha image in Luangpho Khao wihan.

Wat Pho Thong In the royal chronicle, Wat Pho Thong was the place where Krommakhun Phornphinit (Prince Uthumphorn or Khunluang Hawat) entered his monk hood. King Rama VI spent his summer vacation in this temple during his boat trip visiting the Noi River and Yai River in Krungkao precinct in 1916.


Phra Tamnak Khamyat The 10x20 meters royal residence, made of brick and plaster, stands eminent in a paddy field. The artistic beauty still remains e.g. motifs around the window, front and back balcony, was painted in red soil and covered with wooden floor. At present, Department of Fine Arts has renovated and registered Phra Tamnak Khamyat as a historical site.


Fish Park at Wat Khoi With the coordination from the Office of Amphoe Pho Thong Fisheries, this venue was declared as a fish sanctuary. At present, there are various species of fish living together over 50,000 e.g. sawai (genus Pangasius), rad (gouramy), thepo (genus Pangasius), buek (Pangasianodon gigas), tapian (carp), etc.


Bird Sanctuary In this temple, thousands of birds of various species naturally dwell there including the egret, heron, open-billed stork, night heron, cormorant kingfisher, etc. Certain kinds nearly become extinct and cannot easily be seen in other places.

Wat Ban Phran There is a legend saying that the late rite Buddha image called Luangpho Kraithong enshrined in this wihan was built by King Sri Intharathit in Sukhothai and removed into separated parts for assembly again as the principal Buddha image in Wat Ban Phran. Since the founder would like to build his own principal image, he constructed wihan to house the Buddha image called “Luangpho Kraithong”.

Ban Khu Mueang At Ban Khu Mueang, archaeologists discovered ruins of an ancient city, which presumably existed during Thwarawadi period. At present, it is a simple canal without any traces of historical sites.

Wat Yang The historical remains to be found now are ubosot with an upward curve base similar to junk, sandstone Buddha images, damaged stucco Buddha images and boundary stones.

Wat Muang The ubosot of Wat Muang is surrounded by the biggest lotus petals in the world. Within the temple compound, there are figures of heaven and hell, Thai god paradise, Chinese god paradise, and a huge statue of Kuan Im female goddess.

Nai Dok Nai Thongkaeo Monument was constructed by Wiset Chai Chan together with Ang Thong people to commemorate the two heroes of Ban Pho Thalay, Wiset Chai Chan people, and Grandpa Dok and Thongkaeo who sacrificed their lives in the battle with Burmese at Ban Khai Bang Rachan prior to the defeat of Ayutthaya in 1766.

Wat Khian Inside the ubosot are exquisite mural paintings featuring stories of 10 former incarnations of the Lord Buddha, which were presumably the workmanship of a painter’s school in Mueang Wiset Chai Chan in the late Ayutthaya period.


Wat Oi is an old temple representing a symbol of Mueang Wiset Chai Chan. In the precincts of Wat Oi, the Children Creation Foundation has provided accommodation for problem children: straying, drug addicted, or illegally behaved.


Wat Siroi There is a seated Buddha image in the posture of Pa Lelai, called “ Luangpho To” - 21 meters high and 6 meters wide from knee to knee.

Amphoe Samko At present, Samko is well known in its native tradition and folk arts. There are some agricultural areas in Samko converted from rice fields to other agriculture land e.g. lotus field, good species coconut plantations estate, and mixed orchard.

[edit] Local Products

Seasonal Fruits: e.g. mango, pamelo, guava, and papaya


Aquaculture Products: e.g. Macrobrachium rosenbergii, sheat fish, probarbus jullieni.


Processed Foods: e.g. pounded meat and salted egg from Amphoe Chaiyo, smoked fish in stick, sun-dried fish, crispy fish


Desserts: Khanom Keson Lamchiak from Amphoe Wiset Chai Chan and Khanom Kong from Amphoe Mueang are both famous gifts.


Furniture model: from Amphoe Mueang


Flowers made from cloth:from Amphoe Pho Thong and Amphoe Sawaeng Ha


Drums and Court Dolls: from Amphoe Pa Mok


Wickerwork: made of bamboo, rattan, and Java weed from Ban Chaocha, Amphoe Pho Thong, and Amphoe Wiset Chai Chan


Artificial Flowers: from Amphoe Pho Thong and Amphoe Sawaeng Ha


Household Utensils: made of Ceramics and Bencharong from Amphoe Wiset Chai Chan

Culture

Festivals

Ngan Mueang U - Khao, U- Nam. (City of Rice and Water Bowl Fair) and Annual Red Cross Fair is the annual fair of the Ang Thong people held after harvesting period in late December and beginning of January every year. There are interesting activities like cultural shows, exhibitions, local handicraft sales, display and demonstration, stalls, Mueang U-Khao U-Nam beauty contest, agricultural product contest, farmers’ sports competition, and various kinds of entertainment. The fair is held in front of Ang Thong City Hall.

Long Boat Race Festival at Wat Pa Mok is held within Wat Pa Mok Worawihan compound, Amphoe Pa Mok. The festival is held in 2 periods i.e. the reclining Buddha and the mondop of 4-foot (1.2 m). Prints celebration is held in March; while traditional long boat race festival and the country’s renowned long boat competition is held in October.

Paying Homage to Luangpho Wat Chaiyo: In the event, the worship and commemoration of Somdet Phra Phutthachan (To Phromrangsi) and Phra Maha Phutthapim are held in May and November of every year.

Loy Krathong at Wat Siro: Every year there will be firework to celebrate Luangpho Pa Lelai, which is the sacred ceremony of Ang Thong people held on the same day as Loy Krathong day.

God Kuan-U Invitation and Dragon Parade Procession is held in December every year in Ang Thong market. There will be a ceremony to invite God Kuan-U and, dragon parade procession, and stalls of good-price products.

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