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Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Wat Mahathat is located west of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, at the foot of Paa Than bridge.
According to some historical records, the temple was built during the reign of Somdet Phra Borom Rachathirat I. Later Somdet Phra Ramesuan enshrined the reliquary inside the foundation of the Prang, and this incident thus originated the temple’s name “Wat Mahathat” or “Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat” which means the sacred temple where the relics of the Lord Buddha were installed. The Prang of Wat Mahathat was built in Early Ayutthaya. Its structure became the traditional model when constructing a temple and can be found nationwide. Within the kingdom of Ayutthaya, the reliquary holds historical and religious significance as the edifice representing the Buddha. It is believe that Somdet Phra Borom Rachathirat I or Khun Luang Pa Ngua granted a permission to build the temple, but the completion took place during the reign of Somdet Phra Ramesuan. The Prang in which the holy relics were installed was greatly influenced by Khmer-style architecture - the lower part was made of laterite, whereas the upper part was masonry. There was a restoration during the reign of Somdet Phrachao Prasatthong in order to heighten the Prang, but this caused a serious damage to the top and the Prang was left alone with the portico. It was so unfortunate, as it was such an enormous and magnificent one. In 1956 the Fine Arts Department made another attempt to renovate and found a large number of invaluable antiques, such as the stone casket containing the relics. The casket is in fact consists of 7 superimposing stupas: a combination of lead and tin, silver, copper alloy, ebony, sandalwood, garnet and gold. Nowadays the casket is kept in Chao Sam Phaya National Museum.
Additionally, highlights of Wat Mahathat include the octagonal pagoda, the plaster base of a Buddha image, the medium-size Prang with mural paintings about the life of the Buddha, the resident hall of the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch and other smaller Viharas. What seems to be the most prominent landmark of the temple is the head of a sandstone Buddha image entwined in the roots of a Bodhi tree.