BANGKOK, Aug 18 – Twenty-six years after its World Heritage listing, the ‘Historical Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns’ has become an archaeological site of national significance, frequented by tourists who are drawn by the glorious past of the Sukhothai kingdom and the majestic, eternal beauty and charm of the Siamese arts.
Visitors are guaranteed indulgence in the ultimate experience of the first capital city of Siam. Visiting this gorgeous World Heritage Site, tourists can delve into the past, learn more about the origin of Thai civilisation and gain hands-on experience in, and direct exposure to, historical records, architectural and painting works and the traditional custom, traditions, wisdom and way of life as adopted and possessed by local residents.
The cultural arts presented by the historic town of Sukhothai and the associated historic towns of Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet, each of which were major urban centers at the height of the Phra Ruang dynasty, form an invaluable heritage that has been passed down to new generations in the land of Siam, gloriously preserved for more than 700 years.
The era of the Sukhothai kingdom, which rapidly rose to prominence in the 12th and 13th centuries, spanning the golden years of Thai Buddhist history. This was particularly true during the reign of Ramkhamhaeng, the kingdom’s third King, who successfully united neighbouring principalities and allowed them to flourish, a period which would later be known as the ‘Dawn of Happiness’.
The Sukhothai architecture, wisdom and way of life marked the origin of Thai cultural arts in later periods. The glorious past is retold by ancient palaces, urban landscape and temples within the area of Sukhothai Historical Park, where the kingdom’s administrative center was built and ruins of city gates and walls and more than 26 temples are found, including the largest one, Wat Mahathat Temple, which houses viharas, spires, halls and 200 stupas.
UNESCO designated the town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns as World Heritage Site Number 574 in 1991. Thailand’s Fine Arts Department rated Si Satchanalai Historical Park as the best-preserved, its town landscape perfectly maintained. There are more than 215 archaeological sites, 204 of which have been surveyed and explored.
The Wat Chomchuen Temple and the Sangkhalok ceramic kilns are sites that date to an earlier era. To fully sense the unique atmosphere of the site, one should also visit major towns like Kamphaeng Phet, also known as Chakangrao’, where Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is situated, just a little over an hour’s drive from Sukhothai. Kamphseng Phet was a strategic military outpost, and now possesses extensive historical evidence, town walls, moats, fortresses, etc.
DASTA, the government agency for sustainable tourism in Thailand, manages this site, and is seeking to promote the region around Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet to become a hub for cultural and heritage tourism in Asia, and a destination that will attract a greater number of higher-quality, foreign tourists to its magnificent sites, while enhancing the regional economy and local standards of living.