Dates visited: January 3, 2015
We visited Ban Len (40 miles north of Bangkok) to see the Ban Pa-In Royal Palace on our way to Ayutthaya. This palace, built in 1632, was used as a Summer Palace by the Thai royal family. It has elements of European as well as Chinese architecture, but the stand out structure (see picture above) is the Aisawan Thipya-At (Divine Seat of Personal Freedom) pavilion built in the middle of a lake for the royals to read poetry. It’s a simply stunning sight!
Most of the lavish buildings on the palace ground were constructed by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) during 1872-1889. However there is one structure here that has a very tragic past… ….a memorial to one of his queens—Queen Sunandha Kumariratana. The story behind her death is extremely heartrending. In 1881, the queen and her daughter were on their way to the Bang Pa-In Palace when their royal barge capsized in the Chao Phraya River. According to Thai law, it was forbidden for a commoner to touch a royal member and the punishment was nothing short of death! Thus, the onlookers could do nothing to save them and watched the queen and her daughter drown to their death. King Chulalongkorn built a marble obelisk shrine and dedicated it to the Queen.