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Nakhon Sawan (นครสวรค์)

Thai. ‘Heavenly City’. Large capital of a province (map) of the same name in Central Thailand and with a population of approximately 107,000 and a substantial Chinese community. It is situated at the foot of the hilltop temple Wat Chom Khiri Nak Phrot, around 240 kms North of Bangkok at the confluence of the rivers Ping, Nan, Yom and Wang, that form the Chao Phrya River. The town is known for its exuberant Chinese New Year festival and the province is largely covered by the enormous Bung Boraphet lake that stretches from Ban Laem Nang So Nai in the West to Ban Phanom Set Nua in the East, and is a bird sanctuary (fig.). Historians assume that Nakhon Sawan first appeared during the Dvaravati period as a royal city (rajathani - ราชธานี) called Meuang Phra Bang (เมืองพระบาง). During the Sukhothai period, it was part of the Sukhothai Kingdom, forming its southern frontier and remained an important strategic city during the Ayutthaya and Thonburi periods, up to the Rattanakosin period, when it was renamed Meuang Chon Tawan (เมืองชอนตะวัน). Eventually its name was changed into the present Nakhon Sawan and today the 4th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Area Army is still based here. The local population however refers to the city as Meuang Pahk Nahm Phoh (เมืองปากน้ำโพ), a corruption of the name Pahk Nahm Phloh (ปากน้ำโผล่), which means ‘Emerging River Mouths’, referring to its location at the confluence of the rivers Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan. Besides a key military outpost, its location made it also an important trade centre, from the Ayutthaya period to the Rattanakosin period, especially when King Rama IV signed the Bowring Treaty with Britain, after which it became the main rice and teak trading centre. Its importance, however, declined after the opening of the northern railway in 1922, the economic crisis prior to the 1932 revolution, as well as the construction of the Dejativongse bridge and Phahonyothin highway in 1950, which decreased the importance of transportation over waterways, making Nakhon Sawan less important. The province has 13 amphur and two king amphur. Its places of interest include Bung Boraphet lake, Uthayaan Sawan public park (map - fig.), and the large Ganesha statue at the Ganesha Idol Park, known in Thai as Thevasataan Uthayaan Phra Phi Kaneht (map - fig.). See also Nakhon Sawan data file.