Temple works enter 2nd phase
The restoration of Ayutthaya's Wat Chaiwattanaram, one of Thailand's cultural landmarks, has entered its second phase with support from the US government.
US Ambassador Michael DeSombre didn't let the scorching sun scare him yesterday as he joined senior officials from the Culture Ministry and local authorities to inaugurate the new phase of the restoration and spent time touring the temple.
The magnificent Wat Chaiwattanaram, a showcase of beautiful craftsmanship, was built in 1630 and had become a major attraction of the former capital.
However, its foundation was heavily damaged during the 2011 flood, which saw the temple inundated for months. The Fine Arts Department then decided to seek funding for restoration through the Ambassadors' Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).
The first phase of the restoration kicked off in 2012. Apart from the restoration work and flood-prevention system, the project -- which has been granted US$1 million (31.6 million baht) -- is also attaching importance to technical exchanges between conservationists and building knowledge with a view towards cultural sustainability.
Mr DeSombre said yesterday's inauguration was one of his first official events since he took over as the US envoy to Thailand. The ambassador acknowledged that a proposal for the project's third phase is being submitted to the US government for approval and it is hoped the US support will continue. The result will be known in July.
The US State Department established the fund in 2001, with assistance going to more than 1,000 projects in 125 countries. In Thailand, the fund has supported major sites in Bangkok and the provinces. Among them are Kamthieng House at Siam Society, restoration of the mural painting at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam in Bangkok and Wat Baan Koh in Lampang.