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Nonthaburi (นนทบุรี)

Thai. Name of a jangwat (map) and its provincial capital, in Central Thailand. It is a suburb of Bangkok, only 20 kms to its West and bordering it. The earliest evidence of people inhabiting the area goes back to the 14th century Wat Prang Luang, a temple that U-Thong, the later King Ramathibodi I, had built in the amphur Bang Yai, as a community centre for his people, who had fled Meuang U-Thong from an epidemic, sometime before the formation of Ayutthaya as the Siamese capital. This community later dispersed to other places in the area, the most important being a Chao Phraya riverside village named Ban Talaat Khwan (บ้านตลาดขวัญ). In 1548, King Chakraphandi ordered a canal dug across the area, starting from the North of Wat Chalo (วัดชลอ) to the vicinity of Wat Moon Lek (วัดมูลเหล็ก), which today is known as Wat Suwan Khiri (วัดสุวรรณคีรี) in the khet Bangkok Noi (บางกอกน้อย), creating a shortcut of the flow of the Chao Phraya River, delivering more water for agriculture and allowing a quicker way to travel. In the same year, the Burmese troops of king Tabinshwehti attacked Ayutthaya and many people had fled the cities. In 1549, after the Burmese had killed queen Suriyothai and then retreated, King Chakraphandi declared Ban Talaat Khwan a city, renaming it Meuang Talaat Khwan, in an attempt to lure back the population, so that if war would come again, he could more easily enlist his subjects. Besides this, having the status a city gave the place the potential to become a harbour city, as well as a southern outpost of Ayutthaya. In 1636, King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) ordered another canal dug, starting South of Wat Thai Meuang (วัดท้ายเมือง) to Wat Khamao (วัดเขมา). By cutting of a bend of the river, the flow of the Chao Phraya was permanently changed, creating a new riverbed which today still flows in front of the now former City Hall (fig.) and allowing a quicker way to the capital Ayutthaya. Since the shorter riverway was also giving potential enemies easier access to the capital, King Narai in 1665 moved the town of Meuang Talaat Khwan to a new location near the newly dug canal and had it walled and had two fortresses built, i.e. Pom Kaew (ป้อมแก้ว) and Pom Thabthim (ป้อมทับทิม), the first one near the present-day Wat Pahk Nahm (วัดปากน้ำ), literally the ‘Temple at the Mouth of the River’, the latter at today's Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat (วัดเฉลิมพระเกียรติ), though today both the fortified wall and the fortresses have been demolished. In 1721, King Thai Sra (1708-1733) had another canal dug and as a result created the island Koh Kret. In 1764, the Burmese King Hsinbyushin, ordered his general to march his troops on Ayutthaya from the South, levelling the path by first capturing Thonburi and Nonthaburi. To fight these two cities, the advancing troops split up, sending one detachment to area of Wat Khamao, the other to Thonburi. In their advance, the latter were confronted with an English commercial vessel that was anchored near Thonburi and had volunteered to help fight the Burmese invaders with their heavy artillery, but they couldn't resist the aggressors and eventually had to flee. From there, the Burmese went northwards, arriving in Ayutthaya in 1766 and sacking the capital in 1767. During the occupation of their city, the population of Nonthaburi fled land inward, away from the river and canals, toward Bang Yai and Bang Kruwey. After the liberation by General Taksin, who drove the Burmese out and became the new king, the situation turned back to normal and the citizens returned, now joined by people and refugees from other places, including the Mon, who were granted permanent residence. From 1943 to 1946, the province was temporarily incorporated into Bangkok. Nonthaburi is known for its pottery production (fig.) and its main attractions today are the Mon pottery island of Koh Kret (map - fig.), with its leaning Mutao Pagoda (map - fig.); the Old City Hall on the Chao Phraya River, which today is home to the Nonthaburi Museum (map - fig.); the city's Clock Tower (map - fig.); and the Thai-Chinese temple Wat Boromaracha Kanchana Phisek Anuson in Bang Bua Thong, the largest Mahayana Buddhist temple in the Kingdom (map - fig.). Nonthaburi province has six amphur. See also Nonthaburi data file, and THEMATIC STREET LIGHTS (1), (2), (3) and (4).