The Wat Traimat Temple in Bangkok is built in typical Thai style. It’s lovely but probably wouldn’t be classed as one of Thailand’s most outstanding temples if it weren’t for one thing – it houses a ten foot high statue of Buddha, made in solid gold, which weighs more than five tons.
The temple is in the heart of Bangkok’s China Town – about ten per cent of Thailand’s population is Chinese – close to the Hualampong railway station, so it is really easy to travel here and the trains travel from locations throughout the country.
How did the Temple of the Golden Buddha get there?
The temple itself is believed to date back to the thirteenth century but was renovated in the twentieth century. To be honest, it’s not that extraordinary. It puts me in mind of large dwelling house. The statue is thought to be about nine hundred years old, and was originally in a temple in a nearby city, but, like many other things, was moved after Bangkok became the capital of Thailand.
It was covered in plaster – probably to protect it from the Burmese who were plundering that part of Thailand at the time. The monks forgot that it had been covered and it was thought just to be another statue. During the move, it slipped from the hoist and was stuck in the mud. It might have remained there for some time except for a monk, who saw a crack in the plaster, with gold glinting through. The rest, as they say, is history.
Where in the Temple is the Buddha?
At the side of the temple is a small chapel, the Phra Maha MondopIt which was opened to the public in 2010, when the statue was moved there. This building is far more impressive than the old temple – white with beautiful golden spires. The first floor has an exhibition about Chinese immigrants in Thailand; the second floor houses an exhibition relating to the history of the statue, and the top floor is where the wonderful statue is.
It’s here that the statue sits, splendorous and gleaming. It is one of those sights that words just cannot do justice, you really do have to see it to get the real flavor of it. There are pieces of the plaster that once covered it in a display case next to it.
In another one of the nearby buildings are so-called horoscope machines which, for a small donation, you can use to tell your future. (They have an image for each day of the week that somehow refers to the date of birth for the person enquiring. You roll a coin and get the information.)
When you’ve finished your tour of the temple, you can take a trip around Chinatown, which is pretty much the same as Chinatowns in other cities – restaurants, food stalls, shops that sell traditional medicines, etc.
Oh, and one other little thing, the Buddha is worth somewhere in the region of $14 million US dollars… I thoroughly recommend a visit to this temple; it makes a wonderful day out.