Blink and you’ll miss Chaiya. But there seems to be a lot of history buried beneath.
Chaiya is a northern city of the Srivijaya Kingdom – the first unified Kingdom to dominate the Malay archipelago from the 600s to the 1300s. At its greatest extent, it stretched from near south down to Java.
In a time before borders, kingdoms’ extents were defined more by patronage of individual city states, or “mandalas”. During the time when the Dvaravati Kingdom was ruling in the North from the mandala of Lavo near modern Bangkok, the city of Chaiya was a northern centre of Srivijaya power and trade, and is argued by some (mainly Thai) historians, that it was at some point even the capital of the Srivijaya kingdom.
The Srivijaya kingdom was also a major condiut for the expansion of Buddhism into the region. Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia, including China and India, and supposedly had thousands of resident Buddhist scholars.
Its definitely hard to see any of this from the train, but if you got out here and really looked around, you would find evidence of all this. There are a few ruins of temples, and a “folk museum” which houses some of the treasures that have been dug up.
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