- Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat (Thai: นครศรีธรรมราช, pronounced [náʔkʰɔːn sǐː tʰammarâːt], alternative English transliteration: Nakhon Sri Thammarat from Pali Nagara Sri Dhammaraja) is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Province and the Nakhon Si Thammarat district. It is about 610 km (380 mi) south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The city was the administrative center of southern Thailand during most of its history. Originally a coastal city, silting moved the coastline away from the city. The city has a much larger north to south extension than west to east, which dates back to its original location on a flood-save dune. The modern city centre around the train station is located north of Old Town.
It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand, previously Kingdom of Ligor, and contains many buildings and ruins of historical significance. With the fall of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 it regained independence, but returned to its allegiance on the founding of Bangkok. In the 17th century British, Portuguese and Dutch merchants set up factories there and carried on an extensive trade.
As of 2005, the city has a population of 105,417.
The city of Nakhon Si Thammarat is one of the oldest towns of southern Thailand. Its origins are not fully known. Most historians recognize the Tambralinga kingdom of Chinese records as a precursor of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The town chronicles of this time are hardly separable from legend, but they do tell of an abandonment and refounding of the town, which would explain the break in history between Tambralinga and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
References to a country named Poling appear in Chinese chronicles from the Tang dynasty period down to the early Ming dynasty. Many scholars identify Poling with Maling and Danmaling was one of the member-states of Sanfoqi (the Chinese equivalent to Srivijaya) in the central part of the Malayu Peninsula or now a day the southern Thailand.
Consequently, Poling may also be equated to the Tambralingarat (Tambralinga state) that appear in Indian sources. By the end of the 12th century, Tambralinga had become independent of Srivijaya kingdom. Its rapid rise to prominence since the 13th century till the beginning of 14th century, Tambralinga had occupied the entire Malay Peninsula and become one of the dominant Southeast Asian states. By the end of the 14th century, Tambralinga had become a part of Siam (now Thailand) named Nakhon Si Thammaraj.
At the time of the Sukhothai kingdom, the Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom was already listed as one of the kingdoms under control of the Thai, which it has remained during most of its history. It was usually known as Ligor to European merchants in the 16th century.
During the period of the five separate states following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, the Prince of Nakhon Si Thammarat made an abortive bid for independence, but was pardoned by Taksin and retired to Thonburi.
At the end of the 19th century, the kingdom was finally fully absorbed into Siam by converting it into the Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat. When the monthon system was abolished in 1932, the town became a provincial capital.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woromaha Vihan
Wat Phra Mahathat Vihan (Thai วัดพระมหาธาตุวรมหาวิหาร) is the most important temple of Nakhon Si Thammarat and southern Thailand. It was constructed at the time of the founding of the town, and contains a tooth relic of Buddha. The 78 m high chedi is surrounded by 173 smaller ones. While the chedi is now in Sri Lankan style, it is said to be built on top of an earlier Srivijaya style chedi. The chedi completed a renovation in early 2009 and now appears like new.
At the base of the chedi is a gallery named Viharn Tap Kaset, decorated with many Buddha statues and elephant heads emerging from the chedi. Viharn Phra Song Ma is the buildings which contains the staircase which leads to a walkway around the chedi above the gallery. At the bottom of the staircase are demon giants (yak) as guardians. Adjoining to the north is the Viharn Kien, which contains a small temple museum.
South of the chedi is the large ubosot building, the Viharn Luang. Monk living quarters are located across the street in a separate temple, Wat Na Phra Boromathat.
The chedi is the symbol of the Nakhon Si Thammarat province, present in the seal of the province. It is also displayed on the 25 satang coin.
The city chronicle already mentions a fortification when the town was refounded in 1278. Restorations were recorded at the time of King Ramesuan (14th century), as well as King Narai (1686). The latter one was supported by the French engineer M. de la Mare.
The walls spread 456 m from East to West, and 2238 m North to South, thus enclosing an area of about one square kilometre. The northern wall had only one gate, called Prathu Chai Nua or Prathu Chai Sak, also the southern wall had only one gate. To the east there were three gates, which connected the town with the sea. To the west were five gates. Today only the northern gate still exists, together with a short stretch of the northern city wall.
Secondary schools: Nakhon Si Thammarat has three large schools: Kanlayanee Si Thammarat School and Benjamarachutit School, both public secondary schools with grades 7 to 12;and Srithammarat Suksa School, a private pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school.
Universities: Nakhon Si Thammarat has two famous universities: Walailak University (the largest university in Thailand) and Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajaphat University.
- Stuart Munro-Hay. Nakhon Sri Thammarat – The Archaeology, History and Legends of a Southern Thai Town. ISBN 974-7534-73-8
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