13th century city Wiang Kum Kam found
Another “Unseen Thailand” in the north of Thailand is Wiang Kum Kam, which was a short-lived capital of King Mengrai’s Lanna kingdom around 1280s-1290s. The seat of power was moved to Chiangmai after just a few years due to the frequent flooding in the area, which eventually was lost to a deluge that buried the city in mud.
It was rediscovered by chance when local people doing construction work unexpectedly unearthed ancient votive tablets in the 1980s.
Sometime later the Thai Fine Arts Department stepped in and excavated stone slabs inscribed with 13th and 14th century Mon and Sukhothai script.
The Department partially restored a temple from within the compounds of the active Wat Chang Kam (Wat Kan Tom), a temple built in 1290.
Other temples were also excavated, some about two meters deep, and partially restored. The site was designated as a historical park also in the 1980s.
In a sense Wiang Kum Kam was never really lost – it was lost only in memory.
As it turned out Wat Chedi Liam, a popular tourist attraction, and Wat Chang Kam, another functioning wat, have always been a living part of Wiang Kum Kam.
Excavation and restoration are proceeding and could turn out other wats and structures but the project will move not without additional difficulties.
The ancient city, measuring 850 meters long and 600 meters wide, is spread out over and area that is inside and outside a thriving town where lands are more or less already allocated and titled.
Some of the excavated and restored wats so far included Wat Ku Padom, Wat Sri Bun Ruang, Wat Phra Chao Ong Dam – Phaya Mangrai, Wat That Khao, Wat Pu Pia, Wat E-Kang and Wat Nan Chang