Sukhothai which literally means "Dawn of Happiness" with
an area of 6,596 sq.kms., is about 427 km (267 miles)
north of Bangkok and was founded in 1238. Sukhothai was
the capital of Thailand for approximately 120 years.
Sukhothai was the first kingdom of the Thais in this
peninsula. Two princes-Pho Khun Pha Muang of Muang Rad
and Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao of Muang Bangyang combined
their forces and fought the Khmers who commanded an
extensive empire throughout this part of the world.
They drove the Khmers out of Sukhothai, a major frontier
post of the Khmer Empire, and established it as their
capital in 1238. Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao, urged by the
people to be king, was enthroned with the royal title of
Pho Khun Si Indrathit.
King Si Indrathit had two sons-Pho Khun Ban Muang and
Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng. After his death, Pho Khun Ban
Muang succeeded him. His brother, Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng,
ascended the throne in 1278 and reigned for forty years.
He was Thailand's first great king.
One of Thailand's finest warriors, King Ramkhamhaeng
made Sukhothai a powerful and extensive kingdom which
included many parts of what are today neighboring
countries. A number of ancient cities paid him tribute.
King Ramkhamhaeng opened direct political relations with
China and made two trips to China-the first in 1282 to
visit Emperor Kublai Khan and the second in 1300 after
Kublai Khan's death.
From the second visit, he brought back Chinese artisans
who taught the Thais the art of pottery. Today, the old
"Sangkhalok Potteries" are eagerly sought by collectors.
A major achievement of King Ramkhamhaeng was the
revision of various forms of Khmer alphabets into a
system suitable for the writing of Thai words. The
alphabet that he invented in 1283 was essentially the
same as that in use today.
During his reign, there was prosperity and happiness.
There was water in the paddy fields and fish in the
water. A stone inscription reads in part, "This Muang
Sukhothai is good. In the water there are fish; in the
field there is rice. The ruler does not levy a tax on
the people who travel along the road together, leading
their oxen on the way to trade and riding their horses
on the way to sell. Whoever wants to trade in elephants,
so trades. Whoever wants to trade in horses, so trades.
Whoever wants to trade in silver and gold, so trades."
King Ramkhamhaeng also promoted religion and culture,
and through his efforts, Buddhism progressed among the
people. Inspirational faith gave birth to classic forms
of Thai religious arts. Images of the Lord Buddha
sculptured during the Sukhothai Era are cultural
treasures which impart a feeling of peace and serenity.
A total of eight kings ruled Sukhothai. The gradual
decline of Sukhothai occurred during the reigns of the
last two kings. The end of this first Thai kingdom
occurred in 1365 when it became a vassal state of
Ayutthaya, a young and rising power to the south.
Ayutthaya became the capital of Thailand before Bangkok.