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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrBangkok is certainly not in short supply of beautiful temples yet after just a few days here, even first-time visitors start to get a little fussy. Wat Ratchanadda, in all its wonderful glory, ought to revitalize even the most jaded temple visitor. Considered one of the few particularly unique temples in Bangkok (along with the splendid Wat Benchamabophit), this temple complex boasts a castle-like mini-temple decorated with numerous black metal spires, from whence its common name originates. The entire temple complex is a delight to discover and boasts the great addition of granting fantastic city views.
With its 37 metal spires, symbolizing the 37 steps to enlightenment, the revered treasure of Wat Ratchanadda is one of only three such temples in the world, whose construction was based on two, found in India and Sri Lanka respectively. Going purely on aesthetics, the castle’s designs is said to be heavily based on the Sri Lankan model rather than the Indian one.
As of 2005, the Metal Castle of Wat Ratchanadda has been listed as a potential addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
What You Can Expect to SeeLoha Prasat, as this temple is otherwise known, enjoys a spectacular location and its castle-like building is actually what the name ‘Loha Prasat’ refers to. This astonishing looking temple was built in 1846 by order of King Rama III and dedicated to his granddaughter, Princess Somanass Waddhanawathy . In the larger temple grounds are various halls and pagodas, with the Loha Prasat commanding the most attention.
The pyramid-like roof structure of Loha Prasat is utterly resplendent and with its numerous spires enhancing the illusion of an almost Gothic appearance. There is a spiral staircase which allows visitors to reach the very top tier, and it’s from here that you’ll get amazing views of the entire compound, as well as adjoining landmarks like Wat Saket. The shrine atop the tallest level contains relics of Buddha and this is by far the most sacred spot for Buddhists.
Around the base of Loha Prasat you’ll find a myriad of pillars hiding meditation cells used by resident monks on a daily basis.
Getting lost in the maze-like construction is mesmerizing and trying to find your way to the staircase a delightful challenge. Once you ascend you can choose to get off at the various levels to enjoy the views, or head straight up to the 5th level.
As this is still an active temple, we urge you to dress conservatively and refrain from taking photos inside the temple, and of monks praying.
Aside Loha Prasat, the temple grounds are home to a meeting hall, cloister galleries, and another temple. The grounds are well kept and quite extensive and the manicured gardens exude a most magical atmosphere to the entire complex. If you can manage it, plan a visit for the late afternoon, when this temple is at its quietest and most contemplative.
Admission InfoThe temple is open to the public between 8.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and admission is free, although a donation is most appreciated. If you’re lucky enough you’ll visit during one of the many (but random) free meditation classes held for foreign visitors.
Nearby AttractionsThe area around Wat Ratchanadda actually boasts quite a few attractions, so you can combine a visit to this temple with a photo-op at the Democracy Monument, as well as a visit to Wat Saket, Mahakan Fort and perhaps a stroll through Rama III Park.
Amulet MarketJust outside the temple gates is where you’ll find a long line of stalls selling amulets of all sorts. This is a great place to spot monks shopping for an amulet to bring them success, wealth, good fortunes and protection from evil spirits. Although prices seem to have increased here over the past few years, it’s still a great photo opportunity, if not a great souvenir shopping option.
Wat SaketOne of Bangkok’s oldest temples, Wat Saket dates back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom rule which spanned over four centuries of the first millennia AD. When the first Europeans arrived to this region, it is said that the sight of this temple is what led them to describe this as ‘one of the richest cities in the world’.
Mahakan FortOne of only two surviving defensive forts which stood to defend the walled city, Mahakan Fort is a splendid vision of white-washed walls and imposing towers. Although this is more of a stop-and-admire landmark, rather than an attraction requiring a lengthy visit, it is impressive nonetheless; even more so, when one learns about the government’s plans to demolish it and make way for some kind of tourist park. History lovers shudder at the horror.
Rama III ParkThis small but lovely park was built in honor of the King who constructed, or rather ordered construction of, both Wat Ratchanadda and the Golden Mount. It’s a lovely spot for a rest of a stroll, and here you’ll find the interesting Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, which is one of the city’s hidden historical gems. If you want to learn about Bangkok’s history, this is the place you should head to first and foremost. Well organized and compact, it can enlighten first-time visitors in half the time and stress of most other, more popular, museums.
How to Get to the TempleWat Ratchanadda is found about half a kilometer east of Bangkok’s Democracy Monument in the Phra Nakhon district, also known as the Golden Mount area. There are no Skytrain or tram stops nearby, so hopping in a metered taxi or tuk-tuk is the most convenient way to reach it.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Mar 11, 2016