Two of the many Buddha images at Wat Mahathat.
On display at the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, a reconstructed
kiln that once made Sangkhalok earthenware.
There are four summits to the mountain, linked by easy footpaths,
each providing a different view over the surrounding countryside.
Near the north-eastern summit, Pha Na Rai, a massive overhanging
boulder provides dramatic photo opportunities. This viewpoint
is so popular, especially on public holidays, that hikers sometimes
have to queue to have their picture taken.
For the less adventurous, two circular nature trails 1. 2 and
2. 0 kilometres long, with informative notice boards, branch
off the summit trail near the entrance. There's a small garden
featuring medicinal plants, reminding walkers that, to Sukhothai's
original inhabitants, Khao Luang was their local pharmacy. The
lowland trails pass through some of the best forest left in
the national park and visitors are far more likely to spot wildlife
there than along the path to the summit. Resident birds along
these trails include Blue Pitta, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Orange-breasted
Trogon, Great Slaty Woodpecker and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher.
Altogether, 86 bird species have been recorded in the park.
At first, the trail winds through a superb example of
mixed evergreen-deciduous forest, where massive Dipterocarpus
costatus trees soar up to 35 meters tall. There are also huge
fig trees (Ficus altissima) and a profusion of palms. Rattans
and other lianas drape themselves across the forest canopy.
As the trails emerge into drier areas, the forest type changes
abruptly to deciduous dipterocarp forest with Dipterocarpus
obtusifolius trees and various species of Shorea dominating.
This forest is home to Common Barking Deer, Siamese Hares and
a wide range of squirrels and other rodents.
hunting have wiped out most large mammals from the park, but
Common Wild Pigs, Sambar Deer, Malayan Pangolin, Burmese Ferret-badger
and Asian Wild Dog are still occasionally reported.
is today Ramkhamhaeng National Park clearly played a crucial
role in sustaining the Sukhothai Kingdom, providing those early
citizens with essential natural resources such as water, medicines,
bush-meat and timber, as well as a refuge in times of war. The
lesson to be learnt from the Sukhothai experience is that this
ancient city depended for its prosperity as much on a healthy
environment as on strong armies and political power-play; a
lesson that would be well heeded by modern cities today, including