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Kanchanaburi (กาญจนบุรี)

Thai. ‘City of gold’. A provincial capital of app. 37,000 inhabitants in West Thailand, 128 kms from Bangkok, in a province (map) of the same name and initially founded by Rama I as a first defensive buffer against attacks from Burma which it borders in the West with the Kayin State, the Mon State and the Tanintharyi Division of Myanmar. Archaeological discoveries in this area date back to the 4th century AD confirming that trade with neighbouring peoples already existed here during that time. The province has also been under Khmer influence, but little is known about that period. The area is famous for its bridge over the River Kwae Yai (map - fig.) and the construction of the railway along the River Kwae Noi (map - fig.), connecting Bangkok with Rangoon, built during WW II by the Japanese occupying forces with the aid of forced labour namely POWs and native workers. Because of the high death rate during construction -it is said one life for each sleeper- the railway was named the Death Railway (fig.). The events of WWII are remembered annually in the festival of the Week of the Bridge over the River Kwae (fig.), during which in the evening a daily spectacular sound and light show is staged at the bridge (fig.). A number of the victims were buried locally in the war cemeteries Don Rak (fig.) and Chong Kai (fig.). The district of Phanom Thuan is celebrated for Ram Yoei, a local 500 year-old dance in which one person leads in singing with another replying to his lyrics, whilst men and women dance in a circle. In this jangwat (fig.) there are plenty of places of interest, including the temples Wat Tham Seua (fig.), Wat Ban Tham (map - fig.), Wat Tham Khao Noi (fig.), the Rama III Monument at the City Gate (map - fig.) near the City Pillar Shrine (map - fig.), the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre (fig.), the Hellfire Pass Memorial, a Thai History (fig.) and WW II Museum (map - fig.), Khao Laem reservoir (fig.),  the Tha Thung Na (map - fig.) and Sri Nagarindra dams (map - fig.), the town of Sangkhlaburi (fig.) with the country's longest wooden bridge (fig.), Wat Wang Wiwekaram with its pagoda built in the style of the Mahabodhi pagoda of Bodhgaya (fig.), several caves, such as Tham Krasae (fig.) with its remarkable rock formations (fig.), the infamous Tiger Temple (fig.), the King Rama I Statue at the Phra Phutta Yotfa Camp of the 13th Border Patrol Police Department (fig.), and the Three Pagoda Pass (fig.). There are also several National Parks and waterfalls including those of Erawan National Park, Sai Yohk NP, with the waterfalls Sai Yohk Lek (fig.), Sai Yohk Noi (map - fig.), and Sai Yohk Yai (fig.); and Sri Nakharin NP, and different historical places, such as Prasat Meuang Singh (fig.) and Ban Kao. This province has 13 amphur, 98 tambon and 887 villages or mu ban. Both the city and province are also known by the short name Kan. See also Kanchanaburi data file.