Wat Phra Mahathat
It is the most important temple of Nakorn 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.
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. The monk living quarters are located across the street in a separate temple, Wat Na Phra Boromathat. The chedi is the symbol of the Nakorn Si Thammarat province, present in the seal of the province. It is also displayed on the 25 satang coin.
The City Wall
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.
Nakorn Si Thammarat National Museum occupies the area of the former Wat Suan Luang Tawan Ok. The museum was opened in 1974 and displays artifacts found in the 4 southern provinces of Nakorn Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, and Chumphon. Of interest are the local handicrafts display room. The national library building opened to the public in 1976. There is a good collection of rare books and important books sent by the National Library in Bangkok for locals to study.
Nakorn Si Thammarat's branch of the National Museum is full of artifacts of the South's long history. Of particular interest are some seventh century Mon inscriptions taken from Wat Phra Mahathat, ceramics from the Chinese Tang (518 - 907 AD) and Song (960 - 1274 AD) dynasties found in the waters around Nakorn Si Thammarat, and golden niello fittings from King Rama V's royal barge.
Off the courtyard on the ground floor, you'll also find a model of the city as it probably was in the sixth century, just after the walls and main temples were built. On the second floor near the barge fittings are old pictures of Wat Phra Mahathat dating from the turn of the twentieth century. The second floor of the north wing displays many examples of local handicrafts.
Khanom – The Town Formerly known as Muang Tranom. This town was founded in the reign of King U-thong 800 years ago. It was a big center for navigation and sea-trade and a center of Buddhist cultural arts. The name of the town was later known as Panom and Khao Nom and lastly Khanom. In the reign of King Rama the Fifth Khanom became a village under the jusdiction of Ta-saala District. In 1959 it was upranked to the district level under the jurisdiction of Nakorn Sri Thammarat province.
Foreign visitors presently have not discovered Khanom. It is still a sleeping village with fishing, rubber and coconut plantations as the main source of income. Native fishermen can still be seen around the area with small colorful fishing boats. Their catch is served up in hotel and resort restaurants specializing in a dozen of tempting choices.
Getting there from Nakorn Si Thammarat and Surat Thani is no problem. Visitors can hire local taxis or travel in the air-conditioned microbus from the heart of the city of Nakorn Si Thammarat and Surat Thani right to the beach of Khanom. A direct bus leaves Bangkok twice a day to Khanom.
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