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Lopburi (ลพบุรี)

Thai. Name of a Thai province as well as of its capital city (map), located in Central Thailand, 153 kms North of Bangkok, on the east side of the Chao Phraya river valley, between the Lopburi and Pa Sak rivers. The city today has a population of around 40,000, whereas the province houses almost 750,000 residents. In the past it was a Mon city inhabited as early as the Dvaravati period, from the 6th to the 11th century AD, when it was named Lavo. When the Khmer expanded their Angkorian empire in the 10th century it absorbed Lavo, thus erasing all traces of the existing Lavo civilization. It became an outpost of the ancient Khmer empire and a provincial capital. During the 12th century Khmer strength started to decline and some form of self-government was given back to Lopburi which in 1115 AD sent a first independent embassy to China. In the 13th century rule over Lopburi was wrested entirely from the Khmer by the increasing powers of Sukhothai to the North, but Khmer cultural influence remained to a certain level throughout the Ayutthaya Period. There is some evidence that in the 14th century King U-Thong might have ruled over Lopburi, as part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. In the 17th century, King Narai (fig.) fortified the city to serve as a second capital when Ayutthaya was threatened by a Dutch naval blockade. His palace on the east bank of the Lopburi River in Lopburi, where he (map - fig.) died in 1688, was built in 1665. It is known as Phra Narai Rajanivet (map - fig.) and its remains are today one of the city's many historical places of interest. Lopburi today is famous for the biggest military base in Thailand, its numerous historical ruins (fig.), the Phra Kaan Shrine (map - fig.), as well as many stray monkeys, for whom the local people annually organize a monkey buffet. Other places of interest include the Floating Rail (map - fig.) over Pa Sak Chonlasit Lake with its Chonlasit Pa Sak Dam (map - fig.), Sunflower Fields (map - fig.), Mon, Khmer, Lavo and Dvaravati historical sites (fig.), etc. This province has eleven amphur. See also Lopburi data file.