Sanam Chan Palace is located in the town of Nakhon Pathom, about 2 kms west of Phra Pathom Chedi. It occupies an area of about 355 acres. The palace was constructed by command of King Rama VI in the year 1907 when he was the Crown Prince. Phraya Silprasit supervised the construction which, in the beginning, there were two halls: Phra Thinang Phiman Pathom and Phra Thinang Aphirom Reudi.
The construction of this palace was inspired by the renovation of Phra Pathom Chedi which were to the satisfaction of King Rama VI. The King saw that Nakhon Pathom was an ideal place for a leisurely stay due to the magnificent landscape. Furthermore, King Rama VI also saw that Nakhon Pathom had the ideal terrain capable of deterring invasion by enemy forces using the river as their route. This resembles to the Rattanakosin Era year 112 incident, whereby French troops anchored their battleships at the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand blocking the way out and King Rama VI did not want this kind of incident to be repeated. He also intended to converted Sanam Chan Palace to be the heart of the second capital should a crisis again develop.
Sanam Chan Palace covers a vast area with a big court in the middle, surrounded by ring roads, with water canals on the outer perimeter. The beautiful halls that located in the middle of the Palace include:
Phiman Pathom Hall It is the first hall to be built in the Sanam Chan Palace. It is of European architecture, a 2-storey building in which King Rama VI resided before his ascension to the throne. There are several rooms in the hall including His majesty’s bedroom, bathroom, dining room, and dressing-room among others. In this hall, on a 2-metre teak bench, King Rama VI saw a miraculous vision of the Phra Pathom Chedi, later this hall was called “Phra Thinang Pathihan Tassanai” (the hall in which the King saw the miracle). At present, the bench is located in front of the Phutthaisawan Hall, located in the National Museum. As for the Phiman Pathom Hall, it now house a part of the Nakhon Pathom City Hall.
Apirom Reudi Hall It is a 2-storey hall located to the south of Phiman Pathom hall. At present it houses the offices of the Nakhon Pathom City Hall.
Vatchari Romya Hall This is a 2-storey hall. It was built in Thai architecture: multi-layered roof with colourful tiles on the turret; with a swan-like finial on the roof ridge, representing the head of garuda and small finials jutting out of the 2 corners of the gable. When King Rama VI accessed to the throne, it was his temporary residence. Presently, it is a part of the City Hall.
Samakki Mukmat Hall This is a Thai style hall. The building is raised 1-metre above the ground with 2 staircases running down on both sides. This hall is connected to the Vatchari Romya Hall by a door. It was a meeting hall for King Rama VI and also where he holds court. Furthermore, the hall was also used as a Khone theatre (Khone is a kind of Thai play performed by dancers wearing masks). When the Khone was performed, the performers could stage their performances on the surrounding 3 terraces as well as on the stage. There are two other theatres which are similar: Suan Misakawan theatre and Vachiravut School’s auditorium. At present, this hall is a meeting hall of Nakhon Pathom province; it is also used to hold other provincial ceremonies.
Phra Tamnak Chali Monkol-asna This is located nearby in the Southeastern direction. The 2-storey building is of European architecture, plastered in caramel-yellow, with roof tile in red. It was used as a temporary residence of King Rama VI when there were missions that involved with Suer Pah Unit.
Phra Tamnak Mari Ratchrat Banlang This is a 2-storey wooden building and painted in red The building is located opposite Phra Tamnak Chali Monkol-asna and are connected via a walk way. This walk way resembles a bridge with a roof, walls, and windowsThe path walk is similar to a bridge, decorated with roof, wall, and windows as tall as the entire height of the walls.
Phra Tamnak Tabkaeo This is a small building that used to be a temporary residence during winter time. At present, after a renovation it is a residence of the Palad Changwat of Nakhon Pathom. Within the building, there is a fireplace and on the wall is a black and white portrait of King Rama VI done on a slate of white marble. Around 450 Rais (180 acres) of land to the rear of the building is now the campus ground of the Silpakorn University.
Phra Tamnak Tabkwan This a teak building with a palm leaf roof. It is situated on the opposite side of the road from Phra Tamnak Tabkaeo, a little further away from Phra Tamnak Mari Ratchrat Banlang. Under the royal command of King Rama VI, the teak building was constructed to preserve traditional Thai architecture. It is also used for merit-making and some times classic Thai performances would also be held at this building.
Thevalai Kanaesuan or Phra Pikkanesh Shrine It was built to house the image of Phra Pikkanaesuan (or Ganesh), the Indian god of arts. The shrine is located in a large field, in front of the Sanam Chan Palace and is in the centre of the Palace compound. The shrine is deeply revered and is considered the sacred symbol of Sanam Chan Palace.
Ya-Lei Monument This is an actual size iron cast figure. The dog, Ya-Lei, was very close to the heart of King Rama VI. Ya-Lei was a hybrid dog born in the Nakhon Pathom prison. King Rama VI found it when he inspected the prison. Ye-Lei was very fortunate to have caught the eye of the King and was brought to the palace. Ya-Lei was a very smart and loyal dog. The King was very fond of Ya-Lei, so much so that Ya-Lei was envied, and was later shot by an envious person. King Rama VI was much saddened when Ya-Le passed away and commanded that a copper statue of Ya-Lei be cast and placed on a pedestal in front of Phra Tamnak Chali Monkol-asna. The King composed a poem for Ya-Lei that was inscribed below sculpture.
Additionally, there are residential buildings in the Sanam Chan Palace compound that housed the King’s staff. Some of the buildings are run-down while others are still in good condition. Chao Phraya Ramrakop’s residence, then called “Tab Charoen”, is one of the buildings still in good condition which, at present, houses the office of the Nakhon Pathom Public Health.
Sanam Chan Palace is the most favourite palace of King Rama VI, judging from his frequent visits to this palace. His stays at this palace are always at the same time as the military exercises of the Suer Pah Unit. The King would always inspect the Unit and also command the Unit’s exercise. At present, the buildings that were built to serve the Suer Pah Unit, such as the living quarters of the Suer Pah Cavalry Unit and Ranger Unit, and a Suer Pah hospital, can still be seen.
Currently, part of Sanam Chan Palace is under the care and responsibility of Silpakorn University and Nakhon Pathom Province. It is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 09.00-16.00. Admission for Thais: an adult fee is 30 Baht, a child fee is 10 Baht. Admission for foreigners is 50 Baht. In case of a group visit, prior approval from Silpakorn Universityis required. Contact can be made at Silpakorn University, Sanam Chan Palace, Nakhon Pathom, tel: 0 3424 4237, 0 3424 4236-7 Fax: 0 3424 4235