The stream of history

The stream of history

Klong Khumuang Doem.

A stroll along Klong Khumuang Doem is worth a try for tourists. This area boasts various places with historical, religious and cultural importance.

According to Siam Vision cultural group, King Taksin the Great founded Thon Buri as the capital in 1767 and ordered the excavation of moats around the city as a line of defence against invaders. The boundaries of Thon Buri cover both banks of the Chao Phraya River.

When King Rama I relocated the palace to the east side of the Chao Phraya River in 1782, he ordered the demolition of the walls along the old moat — Klong Khumuang Doem — to widen the waterway for use as a transport route. This first tier of the city moats starts at the foot of the Phra Pinklao Bridge, circles eastwards and joins the Chao Phraya River at Pak Klong Talat.

The foot of Phra Pin Klao Bridge is where Klong Rong Mai Wang Na and Chaloem Sawan 58 Bridge were once located. Two years after the death of King Rama V in 1910, this bridge which had high poles bearing the late king’s insignia (Jor Por Ror) was built. However, the canal was later filled. The bridge was demolished when a new road was constructed along with Phra Pin Klao Bridge.

Heading east, you will walk past the National Theatre and the National Museum Bangkok. This area used to be the Front Palace (Wang Na) of Krom Phra Rajawang Bovorn (equivalent to a viceroy). You will also see the monument in honour of Siamese soldiers who died during World War I in Europe. Across the street, you will also see the National Gallery on Chao Fah Road.

Off Atsadang Road and along Ratchadamnoen Nai Avenue is the statue of the Goddess of Earth, or Uthokkathan, built in 1917 from the privy purse of King Rama V’s Queen Saovabha to serve as a source of drinking water for the public. Nowadays, it has become a statue of worship.

Heading south, you may want to stop by at Wat Buranasiri Mattayaram on the left side of the road parallel to Klong Khumuang Doem. This temple was built in 1877 by Chao Phraya Suthammontri (Boonsri), the founder of the Purnasiri family and minister of the Palace Ministry in the reign of King Rama IV.

Over the canal in front of this temple is Charoen Sri 34 Bridge. It was the fourth of the six bridges whose names all start with Charoen, which were built by King Rama VI. The king presided over its opening on Dec 30, 1914, to celebrate his 34th birthday.

Strolling further, you will see two bridges across the canal near the Interior Ministry. The bridges are Saphan Hok, a Dutch-style drawbridge, and Saphan Chang Rongsi, Bangkok’s only bridge for elephants.

Next is Wat Ratchabophit, King Rama V’s symbolic temple. Across the canal is Wat Ratchapradit, King Rama IV’s symbolic temple built by the king in 1864 due to his strong belief that every kingdom since Sukhothai must have Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Ratchapradit.

Nearby are Pi Kun Bridge and the Pig Memorial, tributes to Queen Saovabha, who was born in the Year of the Pig. This area used to boast the palaces of King Rama II’s children born to Chaojom Marnda Sila. Three palaces were called Wang Thai Happhoei. The only remaining palace is Ban Mo Palace, owned by the Kunjara family. Opposite Ban Mo Palace is the shrine of Chao Phor Hor Klong, which boasts three royal drums for beating on different occasions: yam phra surisri to mark sunrise and sunset, akkipinart for fire alarms and phikartpairee to sound in the event of war.

Adjacent to Wat Ratchapradit is Saranrom Park, the public park on the grounds of the former Saranrom Palace, which was built in 1874 in the reign of King Rama V. In this park, there is a monument in memory of King Rama V’s Queen Sunandha.

Near the end of the canal where Sanam Chai and Maharat roads meet, Rajini School and Phra Ratchawang Police Station stand opposite to each other. Rajini School is Thailand’s first all-girl school founded with Queen Saovabha’s personal funds. Meanwhile, the police station building was once Sakakwang, one of the five palaces built in the reign of King Rama III and given to one of his sons, Krommuen Matthayapitak. It has served as a police station since the sixth reign.

Adjacent to the school is Rajini pier. The area used to be the country’s first floating market for the Chinese community during the Thon Buri period. I-Nao, a famous piece of literature written by King Rama II, depicts this area in one of its scenes, stating that as many as 12 languages could be overheard in the area.

If tourists and culture vultures wish to appreciate art and architecture on this route, the walk can take a half day, but it’s fun and informative.

The National Gallery.

The statue of the Goddess of Earth.

A historic building along Atsadang Road.

Wat Buranasiri.

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