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Sukhothai Historical Park

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

We stayed in the Ban Thai Guesthouse in New Sukhothai on an old road full of backpacker guesthouses bordering the Yoh River that runs through “new town.” Unfortunately during the floods of 2011 the city was inundated with water and you can still see sand bags lying around in front of the buildings. Subsequently they built up the concrete barrier to the river at such a height you can’t see over it. So the river is hidden from the guesthouses. However it didn’t stop the sound of Zumba coming from the other side! 😉

In north central Thailand, the Kingdom existed from 1238 until 1438. The old capital, now 12 km outside of New Sukhothai in Tambon Mueang Kao, is in ruins and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage historical park.

The history of Sukhothai is the history of the oldest known beginning of Thailand.

Prior to the 13th century, Tai kingdoms had existed on the northern highlands including the Ngoenyang (centered on Chiang Saen; predecessor of Lanna) kingdom and the Heokam (centered on Chiang Hung, modern Jinghong in China) kingdom of Tai Lue people. Sukhothai had been a trade center and part of Lavo, which was under the domination of the Khmer Empire. The migration of Tai people into upper Chao Phraya valley was somewhat gradual.

Modern historians stated that the secession of Sukhothai from the Khmer empire began as early as 1180 during the reign of Po Khun Sri Naw Namthom who was the ruler of Sukhothai and the peripheral city of Sri Satchanalai (now a part of Sukhothai Province as Amphoe). Sukhothai had enjoyed a substantial autonomy until it was re-conquered around 1180 by the Mons of Lavo under Khomsabad Khlonlampong.

Traditional Thai historians considered the foundation of the Sukhothai kingdom as the beginning of their nation because little was known about the kingdoms prior to Sukhothai. Modern historical studies demonstrate that Thai history began before Sukhothai. Yet the foundation of Sukhothai is still a celebrated event.

With regard to culture, the monks from Sri Thamnakorn propagated the Theravada religion in Sukhothai. In 1283, the Thai script was invented by Ramkamhaeng, formulating into the controversial Ramkamhaeng Stele discovered by Mongkut 600 years later.

The Sukhothai domination was, however, short. Meanwhile, Ayutthaya rose in strength, and finally in 1378 King Thammaracha II had to submit to this new power. (Wikipedia)