Rising Waters Threaten Wat Chaiwatthanaram
The temple of Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Thailand was built during the Ayutthaya period in 1630, under the reign of King Prasatthong. The most prestigious of his monuments, Wat Chai remained the setting for royal ceremonies and cremations until the end of the Ayutthaya period.
More frequent and heavier rains from climate change in recent years has put greater pressure on heritage sites, and Wat Chaiwatthanaram’s proximity to the Chao Phraya River makes it especially vulnerable to flooding.
Unprecedented flooding in 2011 inundated the fragile stonework and submerged significant portions of the sacred complex. After the flood, funding from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation supported our work with the Fine Arts Department of Thailand (FAD) to design a new south flood wall and produce a master drainage and flood plan.
This year, with the seasonal monsoon rains the Chao Phraya River is inching higher each day to levels not seen since the floods of 2011. In preparation of expected water releases from the Chao Phraya Dam upstream, FAD has installed the east side swing wall and sandbags parallel to the river and set other measures to protect the Wat Chai.
Our team is also taking measures to lift conservation materials at the worksite to higher ground. The waters are generally expected to crest in mid-October but as of this writing, the south flood wall is still holding and the site remains secure.
WMF's work at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Thailand is made possible thanks to support from the U.S. Department of State through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, and the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage.