Saving Thailand’s Ancient City From the Floods
We’ve had one eye turned to India ever since news was released on the impending collapse of the Taj Mahal. But yet another endangered UNESCO World Heritage site has caught our attention: the ancient Thai temples of Ayutthaya Historical Park, which have survived centuries of severe tropical weather, have been severely weakened by the floods that have recently devastated the country.
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Ayutthaya Historical Park was founded around 1350 as one of the capitals of the old kingdom of Siam. In its glory days, Ayutthaya was home to over 400 temples fitted with stunning Buddha statues before it fell to Burmese invaders in the 18th century. Though the ruins were painstakingly restored, the severe weather this past July sent an unprecedented deluge of water sweeping through much of central and northern Thailand, sustaining heavy damage to the architecture and the earthen foundation on which it stands. Still waiting for water levels to recede before evaluating the full extent of the damage, park officials have estimated at least $20 million needed for repairs and fear that the monuments will sink or even collapse if left unaided, as AFP reports.
For months now, Thais have been struggling to wait out a prolonged national tragedy. The natural disaster has left more than 600 dead and millions homeless, and it has undoubtedly pushed the nation’s architecture to its very limits. As Thailand waits patiently for its cities to reemerge from the waters, we are left with surreal images of whole neighborhoods taking residence in concrete infrastructure and colossal Buddha sculptures almost fully submerged and seemingly gasping for breath.