the early Ayutthaya period there was no place specially used
for cremations. When a King died an area would be chosen for
that royal ritual. After the ceremonies had been performed
the location where the cremation took place became the site
of a monastery; for example. Wat Phra Ram is located where
King U Thong was cremated. Only as of the reign of King Songtham
is there evidence of a specific area having been reserved
for this purpose.
chronicles mention that in 1610 A.D. King Songtham ordered
the image known as Phra Mongkhonbophit to be moved from the
east to the west and commanded the constuction of a mandapa
to house this image of the Buddha. In 1612 A.D. an order was
carried out to level the earth in front of the vihara so that
cremations could take place there Phra Mongkhonbophit has
been identified as the image which King Chairachathirat had
ordered sculpted in 1538 A.D. at Wat Chichiang.
available evidance we know that King Thairachathirat ordered
the building of Wat Chichiang and a chedi in the vicinity
of a cremation spot, and the casting of an image. King Songtham
chose to limit the area for cremations to the central part
of the town, near Wat Chichiang; this was the reason for moving
the Buddha image (Phra Mongkhonbophit) to a new spot in the
western sector, after which its original site was used for
a cremation area.
the reign of King Sua (1697-1706 A.D.) lightning struck the
top of the mandapa and it collapsed. The head of Phra Mongkhonbophit
fell off. As a result the King had the mandapa rebuilt and
turned into a vihara. In the reign of King borommakot (1732-1758
A.D.) another restoration took place. When Ayutthaya was sacked
the vihara was apparently burnt.
Phra Mongkhonbophit image was last restored in 1955 A.D. .
At that time a quantity of buddha images were found on the
left shoulder of Phra Mongkhonbophit. They are now kept in
the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
1990 A.D. the Mongkhonbophit Foundation in Ayutthaya desired
to cover the image with gold leaf. This was approved by the
Fine Arts Department. The work was completed two years later.