On the way to see Phra Pathom Chedi we stopped off in a local craft centre where they carve all sorts of interesting items out of Teak1, some of the items take months to do but look amazing when they’re done. I would have loved to buy one of their outside table and chair sets but I couldn’t afford the £10k2 price tag!
Phra Pathom Chedi is the highest stupa (a type of Buddhist structure that looks like an upside down ice cream cone) in the world with an awe-inspiring height of 127m, it’s found in the town Nakhon Pathom which is about 60km South of Bangkok. According to what Shy (our tour guide) said, the stupa has been re-tiled 3 times but each time it was on top of the previous set of tiles.
The height of the stupa3 isn’t the only thing that’s impressive, around the base of the stupa is a huge collection of Buddha in various positions from lying down to sitting4, each slightly different and with an accompanying caption. Shy (our guide) said it would take 20minutes to walk around the base of the stupa and we would see 1,000 Buddha images. I’m not sure there were quite 1,000 but it did take around 15minutes to stroll around and there were a lot of Buddha images!
We only went around the outer wall of the temple, even though I wanted to go inside we weren’t sure whether it was allowed –though a few Japanese were checking it out. Apparently inside the temple there is a huge reclining Buddha image.
While we were there a monk was chanting away at the feet of the standing Buddha image while people paid their respects by burning incense and lighting candles. According to Shy you don’t need to be a monk for life, you stay at the temple for as long as you need until you find enlightenment following their 217 rules. However, every boy has to stay at the temple for at least 2months and you can only be called a monk when you’re over 20.
It’s an interesting religion and one I could easily follow from the little that I know about it.