While attention has been focused on the recent flooding in and around Bangkok, an endangered UNESCO World Heritage site has been overlooked: 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.
Ayutthaya was founded in the 14th century 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 summer sent an unprecedented deluge of water sweeping through much of central and northern Thailand, causing severe 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.
This slow-motion cultural disaster is clearly evident in these surreal photographs of colossal Buddhas and sinking temples.