The Lotus Bud Chedi of Phitsanulok

One of the less celebrated monuments of Phitsanulok is Wat Chedi Yod Thong, of which little consists now but a single lotus bud chedi. The red brick tower stands on a terraced base in the middle of a large field, rising to a height of twenty metres. It is the sole remainder of what was once probably a large temple complex and it now has a solitary look, standing alone as the last vestige of a larger whole. There are traces of stucco on the outer walls and the whole exterior may once have been covered with Buddha figures. Apart from this chedi, there is little else to divert visitors at the site, however. There is a small pond which has possibly been there for centuries, and a small cluster of monks’ houses faces it, but neither this nor the small, modern temple temple are of much interest; it is only the chedi which is worth making the trip out to the suburbs of Phitsanulok for.

The lotus bud chedi was a style of monument which rose to popularity during the Sukothai kingdom, which was the first historical Thai kingdom. It is associated with the two main Sukothai archaeological sites of Si Satchanalai and Sukothai, historical centres which flowered in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

One prominent example of a lotus bud chedi can be found at Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo, which is one of the main temples at Si Satchanalai. This temple is associated with Thai royalty, and it is believed that most of the monuments there are funerary monuments of one kind or another. The main monument at this site is an elegantly tapered lotus bud chedi which is flanked by no less than thirty-two other subsidiary chedis. You can also find a very famous example in the centre of Sukothai Historical Park. Here, right at the core of the first Thai capital, is Wat Mahathat, which features a lotus bud chedi right in the core group of monuments. These royal connections make it seem likely that Wat Chedi Yod Thong is also a funerary monument of some sort of for a member of the Thai royal family from the Sukothai era. It makes for an idiosyncratic sight on a Phitsanulok day-trip.

The lotus bud chedi of Wat Chedi Yod Thong
The lotus bud chedi of Wat Chedi Yod Thong