Friday, May 11, 2012

Thailand - Bangkok Temple Hopping 2 - Wat Saket

Wat Saket is the temple complex at the base of the Golden Mount. The main temple, monastery and library are located within the temple complex.

During the reign of different Rama's, the temple was considered outside the walled city. Because of this, it was used to be a cremation and dumping area during the plague in the reign of King Rama II (1809 -24). Around 60000 plague victims were cremated here. Nothing to worry because it happened eons of years ago.

A brief history of the Golden Mount

Golden Mount is an artificial steep hill known locally as "Phu Khao Thong". Though rising at merely 100 meters, it can be seen from afar due to its 58 meters high golden chedi. To reach the golden chedi, one must ascend 318 steps. Much higher that the famous 270 steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.



almost there

Beneath the golden chedi are some Buddha replicas and altars.

Enshrined at the Chedi is a Buddha relic brought from India.

There is a small spiral staircase going to the peak where the golden chedi is located. An entrance fee of 10 Baht is collected from those who wanted to access the peak or base of the golden chedi. It would be a shame if you are not going to pay a visit on the base of the golden chedi because this is where the main rituals are practiced.

Well, the picture above seems not really a part of the local ceremony or rituals. I have no idea as well. The following shots are the authentic local or Buddhist rituals.

miniture bells can be bought and hang here by devotees

money offerings by devotees

I spent around 30 minutes at the base of the golden chedi. I was fascinated in observing the different rituals being practiced by the devotees. Moreover, the view from this area was superb and simply spectacular.

Though lacking of shade, it was still comfortable due to breeze. I don't know the situation when it rains.

Due to participation of the different Rama's in building this golden chedi and serving as cremation area of ten of thousand of plague victims, this place is very important to Thai nation.

Around the first week of November, during full moon, Wat Saket hosts an annual temple fair during Loy Kratong festival. At that time, the golden mount is colorfully illuminated and wrapped in red cloth. The temple complex turns into a massive fun fair ala-carnival style and a candle light procession is held up to the mount.

It took me around 45 minutes to walk from Khao San up to the Wat Saket. You can easily see the golden chedi from democracy monument area. Be careful though because I have met several touts and along the way. They would try to catch your attention by calling you or trying to initiate conversation. I just ignored them and if needed, I say the magic words "me, no English."

You may check my Bangkok temple hopping posts:

Bangkok Temple Hopping 1 - Wat Po (Temple of The Reclining Buddha)
Bangkok Temple Hopping 2 - Wat Saket (Temple of Golden Mount)
Bangkok Temple Hopping 3 - Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Bangkok Temple Hopping 4 - Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasat)
Bangkok Temple Hopping 5 - Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)

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