Wat Saket - Golden Mountain Temple in Bangkok

Wat Saket was once the highest point in Bangkok. Erected on an artificially constructed 80-meter-high hill, topped with a 58-meter-high golden chedi, it is a popular landmark of the city, a sacred pilgrimage site during the Thai festival of Loikratong.

Mention of the temple dates back to the period of the 1600s. Its area was extensive and included the central morgues of the city. The area is still known as the "Ghost Gate". But the cemeteries were only one aspect of the temple. It served as a community center and had its own schools. King Rama I (founder of the Chakri dynasty, one of Thailand's historical figures), used the temple grounds as a place for rejuvenation. The Thai words sa and ket translate to "soul" and "hair," so Wat Saket is a kind of place of purification, both physically and spiritually.

The Golden Mountain is part of the complex and has a somewhat unusual history. King Rama III (grandson of Rama I) in the early nineteenth century wanted to build a large chedi on the mountain to mark the entrance to the city. The soft, swampy soil could not support the load and the structure collapsed before it was completed.

Later Rama IV erected a small Chedi on top of the mound of earth and brick. The pagoda was rebuilt again at the end of the nineteenth century by his son Rama V when the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, presented a unique gift of relics of the Buddha.

The chedi, also called stupa or pagoda, is the most important and sacred part of the temple structure. Originally pagodas contained relics of the Buddha, later used to bury the remains of kings or very important monks. They come in a variety of forms, although they tend to be conical in shape. In Thailand, the chedi in the form of a bell is the most commonly used.

Wat Saket awaits worshippers and tourists year-round. Today the top of the hill is encased in concrete, but its base still consists of bricks and earth. Around it you can see numerous shrines of dead people, tall trees wrapped in lianas, flower beds, many statues of Buddha, fountains, streams. There are also traditional Buddhist structures: the main chapel, Bot, Viharn, library.

The Bot, the hall of ordination, is the main prayer room and one of the most important structures of the Wat.

This is the building where monks are ordained. It is also used for other important temple rituals. It has a rectangular shape with the main entrance facing east. Opposite the entrance is a statue of Buddha on an ornate stand. The walls are decorated with paintings. The bot is surrounded by eight side stones - sima.

Bot and viharn usually have similar characteristics, but the viharn (assembly hall) does not have a sim. Buddhist ceremonies for monks and laymen are held in viharns. Some viharns have entire galleries of Buddha images. In the early days of Buddhism, they were built to shelter traveling monks during the rainy season.

Climbing to the Temple

From the base of Wat Saket, a wide spiral staircase of 320 steps leads upward. The ascent is not strenuous, as the slope is quite small. The best time to visit the temple is during the cool season from late November to January, when not only are the temperatures much cooler, but the jasmine trees are in bloom, giving off a wonderful smell.

vat saket

▣ The ascent to the golden mountain.

The ascent will take 10-15 minutes, no more. During the walk you will pass a series of bells and bells that you can ring for good luck. This thrills adults and young travelers alike.

There are benches to rest on, a small café if you need to replenish your energy before or after the climb. At the top of the mountain is a Buddhist temple. As in all sacred places, it is important to be respectful of the local culture, act and dress appropriately. By the way, when you visit Wat Saket, you are not required to take off your shoes like other temples, as the sign at the entrance says.

The interior is quite simple with windows along the outer walls. There are many statues of Buddha in different poses. A short staircase from the center of each side leads to the shrine, a relic of the Buddha, which lies just below the chedi on the roof. The shrine is covered in many layers of gold leaf donated by the faithful for more than 100 years. If you are here around 5 p.m., you can watch a traditional worship service in the main hall.

In the back corner of the room is a narrow staircase to the roof. The first thing you see when you go up there is a huge stupa covered with thousands of golden mosaic tiles. Here a small group of locals offer flowers, candles, incense, and prayers.

But the real highlight is the panoramic view of Bangkok. The view from the terrace is surreal. To the west are the towers and rooftops of the Emerald Buddha Temple in the old Grand Palace. In front of you are the Democracy Monument and the Ratchanadda Peaks. To the northwest you can see the pylon of the new Ram VI Bridge with its golden strands of pendants, and to the east the towers of the city's business district.

A large fair is held every year at Wat Saket on Loikratong, usually in November. The golden chedi is draped with a huge red cloth. A candlelit procession ascends to the temple and opens the week-long entertainment fair.

Colorful lanterns, picturesque flags, food booths, fairground amusements, and fun rides enliven the neighborhood. The crowds of worshippers and visitors gather at the base of the church almost all week long.

Time and cost of attendance

Opening hours: daily 07:30-17:30. Admission is free. However, be aware that before you make the ascent, a small fee of 10 baht (0.28 USD) is required to enter the building and gain access to the rooftop terrace.

How to get there

Wat Saket is located between Boriphat Road and Lan Luang Road. There is no subway here. The best option is to order a cab from the hotel. From the Monument of Democracy you can walk straight east on Ratchadamnoen Road, then right after crossing Fan Fa Bridge.

Temple location on a map of Bangkok

From Sukhumvit, the best way to get there is to take a boat to the Phan Fa Lilat terminus. The cost is 15 baht, so you avoid the terrible traffic in the center. Get off the boat, take the first left and you will be there in 5 minutes.

Go to the temple and the city buses number 8, 15, 37, 47, 49, the fare depends on the distance and category of bus, from 6 to 23 baht.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *