Tall grasses line a dulled concrete path leading to Prasat Nakorn Luang, an old summer retreat for the royal family. It’s not very popular with the tourists, explains the head monk. It seems most visitors stick to main temples in town when they visit Ayutthaya.
Prasat Nakorn Luang is just outside of Ayutthaya. To reach it we drive down a dusty two lane road speckled with small shops that hang faded Coca-Cola signs inviting you in for something cold.
The Burmese spared Prasat Nakorn Luang during their occupation and it remains relatively unscathed, save for the patina you’ve come to expect from antiquity. To reach it, you climb up a steep staircase. Two dried banana trees frame the doorway and you pass under a mast of colorful flags; this is an active temple, a truth belied by the mottled outer compound and the fact that nobody is there. It isn’t until you reach the interior that you see its hidden beauty.
Bright yellow walls; red lacquered ceilings; seated Buddhas cloaked in saffron robes; marble temple floors; a large footprint of Buddha; rising stupas; jackfruit trees; a well loved statute of Ganesha: this is what you find when you reach the center.
This place was unexpected in Ayutthaya, a region more commonly associated with the destructions of a very long war. But it’s that surprise, that oasis from expectation, that often makes travel so very wonderful.