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Nakhon Si Thammarat

Nakhon Si Thammarat is a southern Thai coastal province edging the Gulf of Thailand. The province covers some 9,942 sq. km. Provincial capital is some 780km south of Bangkok.

This province has Surat Thani to the north, Trang, Phatthalung and Songkhla to the south, Krabi to the west and the east. Nakhon Si Thammarat is divided into 16 districts and 2 sub-districts.

The province is historically important. In as much as that from the late 1200s, trade was firmly established between Nakhon Si Thammarat and Southern India, including Sri Lanka. Intermarriage between local women and foreign merchants resulted in the import of certain Indian beliefs and customs, including Brahmanism and shadow plays, influences that were to have profound effects on the Siamese courts of the Ayutthaya period (1350 - 1767). Besides that, Nakhon Si Thammarat was also a major center of Buddhism some 1,700 years ago, during the Sri Vijaya period.

The town which bears the same name as that of the province is a natural stopover for travelers heading north to Ko Samui. The town was once known as Ligor and contains many archeological sites. History is found in abundance here, but, so also are sandy beaches, national parks and picturesque waterfalls. Silverware, brassware and fine-weave lacquered basketry are specialties of the province.

Wat Phra Mahathat

This is one of the most revered temples in southern Thailand, and is by far the most prominent city landmark. The original pagoda was built some 1,700 years ago to house Buddha relics brought from Sri Lanka. The 77m high pagoda dominates a complex of lesser yet nevertheless interesting structures which include the Viharn Luang and the Viharn Pra Ma. Viharn Luang - this chapel to the left of the pagoda is a perfect example of Ayutthayan architecture and contains an intricately painted and decorated ceiling. Viharn Pra Ma on the other hand lies to the right and contains two national artistic masterpieces, namely 'bas relief' depicting the life of the Lord Buddha in India before his enlightenment, and a carved door, dating back hundreds of years, depicting the Hindu gods Brahma and Vishnu.

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