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Lop Buri to Celebrate the Glorious Days of the Reign of King Narai the Great

February 14, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

1442135910pLying about 150 kilometers north of Bangkok, Lop Buri province will celebrate the glorious days of the reign of King Narai the Great for nine days.
The event “King Narai Reign Fair” is held annually to promote historical and cultural tourism in Lop Buri, where local residents dress up in traditional Thai costumes during this major cultural event of the province.

The King Narai Reign Fair 2014 will take place in the Narai Ratchaniwet, or Lop Buri Palace, compound in the heart of the city of Lop Buri from 15 to 23 February. Lop Buri Governor Thanakom Jongjira said that the event is meant to honor King Narai of the Ayutthaya period, one of the renowned monarchs in Thai history.

Recognized as Ayutthaya’s most outward-looking and cosmopolitan ruler, King Narai, who ruled the Thai kingdom from 1656 to 1688, was accorded the title “the Great” for his contributions in many areas. He was best known for his promotion of diplomatic relations with European powers during the 17th century. His open-door policy led to trade contact between Ayutthaya and merchants from different parts of the world.

French missionaries and merchants came to the capital, and during the 1680s, King Narai and Louis XIV established diplomatic ties. However, the French tried to convert King Narai to Christianity and also attempted to gain a foothold in the Thai kingdom. In 1687, they sent troops to garrison Bangkok. When a succession conflict broke out in 1688, an anti-French official seized power, drove out the French garrisons, and executed King Narai’s Greek favorite, Constantine Phaulkon, who had been championing the French cause. After 1688, Ayutthaya had less contact with Western nations, but there was no policy of national seclusion.

Aware of the dangers of foreign invasion, as Ayutthaya was located close to the sea, King Narai decided to develop Lop Buri as the second capital of the Kingdom, with the help of French architects. Narai Ratchaniwet, often referred to as Lop Buri Palace, was the venue where King Narai received French ambassadors. It was built in a mixture of Thai and Western architectural styles. King Narai resided at this palace for eight or nine months each year and returned to Ayutthaya during the rainy season.

The King Narai Reign Fair 2014 features spectacular processions, cultural shows, folk games, a light and sound presentation, demonstrations of cooking Thai desserts, a contest of food preparation, and a bazaar of local products.

Lop Buri boasts many historical and cultural attractions. Among them are the Three Pagodas, or Phra Prang Sam Yot, a symbol of Lop Buri, Phra Kan Shrine, an ancient Hindu structure in the Khmer style, and Narai Ratchaniwet, which now serves as the National Museum of Lop Buri.

The province plans to upgrade the Lop Buri Old Town into a historical tourism destination in the ASEAN region. Its vision is to develop Lop Buri as a tourism city, a safe food production base, and a livable city toward the ASEAN Community.

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