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08/01/2010

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan (วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร), Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, Bangkok, Thailand


This photo was taken in Bangkok, Thailand, and does show Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan (วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร), a Buddhist temple in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district.
The temple dates back to Ayutthaya era, when it was called Wat Sakae. King Rama I renovated the temple and renamed it to Wat Saket.
Phu Khao Thong (Golden mountain, ภูเขาทอง) is a steep hill inside the Wat Saket compound. It is not a natural outcrop, but an artificial hill.
During the reign of King Rama III (1787 – 1851) the decision was made to build a Chedi of huge dimensions to add to the Wat Saket temple. However, the large Chedi collapsed during the construction process because the soft soil beneath would not support it. The resulting mud-and-brick hillock was left alone for about half a century, taking the shape of a natural hill and becoming overgrown with weeds. Since then it looked like a natural small mountain it received its name of "Phu Khao" (ภูเขา) at that time.
Finally under King Rama IV, a small Chedi was built on the hilltop. This smaller structure was finished under King Rama V (1853– 1910), when a Buddha relic from India was housed in the Chedi. In the 1940s the surrounding concrete walls were built to prevent the hill from eroding. There is an important festival at Wat Saket every November that includes a beautiful candlelight procession up Phu Khao Thong.
Phu Khao Thong has become a popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, but the rest of the Wat Saket temple area is much less visited.

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