In the early Ayutthaya period there was no place specially used for cremations. When a King died an area would be chosen for that royal ritual. After the ceremonies had been performed the location where the cremation took place became the site of a monastery; for example, Wat Phra Ram is located where King U-Thong was cremated. Only as of the reign of King Songtham is there evidence of a spicific area having been reserved for this purpose.
The Phra Mongkol Bophit image
The chronicles mention that in 1610 A.D. King Songtham ordered the image known as Phra Mongkol Bophit to be moved from the east to the west and commanded the construction of a mandapa to house this image of the Buddha. In 1612 A.D. an order was carried out to level the earth in front of the vihara so that cremations could take place there Phra Mongkol Bophit has been identified as the image which King Chairachathirat had ordered sculpted in 1538 A.D. at Wat Chichiang.
From available evidence we know that King Chairachathirat ordered the building of Wat Chichiang and a chedi in the vicinity of a cremation spot, and the casting of an image. King Songtham close to limit the area for cremations to the central part of the town, near Wat Chichiang; this was the reason for moving the Buddha image (Phra Mongkol Bophit) to a new spot in the Western sector, after which its original site was used for a cremation area.
The Bronze Buddha image at Wat Mongkol Bophit is one among the biggest images in Thailand. The exact date of the image could not be obtained, however, the Sukhothai influence shows on the features of the image indicates that the image was built in early Ayutthaya between the time of King Trilokanath and King Song Tham
In the reign of King Sua (1697-1706 A.D) lightning struck the top of the mandapa and it collapsed; The head of Phra Mongkol Bophit fell of. As a result the King had the mandapa rebuilt and turned into a vihara. In the reign of King Borommakot (1732-1758 A.D) another restoration took place. When Ayutthaya was sacked the vihara was apparently burnt.
The Phra Mongkol Bophit image was last restored in 1955 A.D. At that time a quantity of buddha images were found on the left shoulder of Phra Mongkol Bophit. They are now kept in the Chao Sam Phraya national Museum.
In 1990 A.D. the Mongkol Bophit Foundation in Ayutthaya desired to cover the image with gold leaf. This was approved by the Fine Arts Department. The work was completed two year later.