Wat Saket is a famous temple. When asked about tourist attractions in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district, We can’t go to Wat Saket or the Golden Mountain. It is a well-known Buddhist temple that stands out in the heart of the city. At the temple’s apex is a gleaming golden pagoda that reflects light both day and night. It is located within the territory of Wat Saket Ratchaworawihan and has become one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist destinations. The temple is located next to Khlong Maha Nak in the Ban Bat area of Bangkok’s Pom Prap Sattru Phai District, 300 meters from the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge, 500 meters from Loha Prasat, 700 meters from the Democracy Monument, and 1.5 kilometers from Sanam Luang. Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the temple. If you have never been to the Golden Mountain, or if you have been on a trip but have never learned about its history, Let’s learn more about this place together today.
Wat Saket history
The temple was built in the Ayutthaya era and has the original name “Wat Sakae”, later King Rama I renovated the temple and give the temple name “Wat Saket”. Saket means “Washing Hair” that the name comes from when the king returned from the war. He visited to take a bath and wash his hair here. It has a tail of the temple in the Ayutthaya era in 1820 when the Black Death spread all around Ayutthaya city and It kills more than 30,000 people and the temple used as a place to cremate the dead, therefore, the amount of dead body the temple was not the capability to cremate all dead body. The dead body could not manage in time, the only way is to leave some of them in the open area that made a vultures began coming to devour those bodies and the parts of bodies scatter thought out the temple. These miserable events came to a terror tail to local people, they call “vultures of Wat Saket”, the terrifying of the story still know until the present.
Wat Saket Vultures
In 1820, during the reign of King Buddhalertla Naphalai (King Rama II), there was a severe cholera epidemic. There was no cure and no one knew how to protect against the epidemic in Bangkok at the time. The king decided to use a method to encourage Thai citizens by organizing a “death ceremony” to expel this disease. The ceremony was held at the Dusit Maha Prasat throne hall, and Thai artillery was fired throughout the night in Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha had also been summoned, and the Buddha’s relics had been paraded. Furthermore, there was a royal cleric praying the Buddha’s mantra along the city route and making merit by releasing the fish to river. The king declared that people would not kill animals and would instead stay at home. Despite the fact that many precautions were taken to prevent the pandemic, approximately 30,000 people died as a result of it. Because the massive bodies can not be buried or burned in time, they are piled up in the temple. Some bodies were dumped into the river late at night. As a result, the bodies were scattered throughout Bangkok. Fear gripped the city, causing many people to flee Bangkok, despite the fact that many monks abandoned temples. All government jobs and businesses were halted. People believed that if they did not flee, they would perish as a result of the pandemic. When there was no one to manage a thousand bodies, Wat Saket became a haven for thousands of vultures looking for corpses to eat.
Cholera appears during the dry season and disappears during the rainy season. In 1849, cholera struck again, this time on Malaysia’s Penang island and spreading to Bangkok. Thais refer to it as “Ha Long Pi Raka.” Only one month after the epidemic began, the death rate was around 15,000-20,000 people, with 40,000 deaths occurring throughout the season. King Rama IV, who was a clergyman at the time, designated three temples as cremation sites: Wat Saket, Wat Bang Lamphu (Wat Sangwet Witsayaram), and Wat Teen Len (Wat Choeng Len or Wat Bophit Phimuk). There is a maximum of 696 bodies cremated per day, but there are still bodies that can not be burned in time. The bodies were gathered in the temples, particularly at Wat Saket. The majority of the bodies were dispatched. As a result, at Wat Saket, vultures swarmed to drown and devour corpses in the temple courtyards, in the trees, on the walls, and on the roofs of the cloisters. Even a staff with a stick can’t stop the vultures from eating corpses. The vultures gorge themselves on corpses. The horrifying behavior of these vultures, dubbed “Wat Saket vultures” by locals, has become a terrifying history that continues to this day.
The Golden Mountain
The Golden Mountain began to be built during King Rama IV’s reign, when he had the idea of building twelve large wooden recessed pagodas in the city’s east, but because the area above was muddy soil, it couldn’t support the weight of the structure, and the Phra Prang collapsed. However, he died before the construction was completed. Later, in King Mongkut’s (King Rama 4) reign, he granted permission to rebuild the Golden Mountain by transforming its form into a high mountain replica. Then there’s a pagoda on top, with two spiral staircases going up and down. King Rama 4 proceeded to lay the foundation stone by himself and renamed it Phra Borom Banphot, or Golden Mountain. When King Rama IV died, the construction was not completed.
During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama 5), the construction continued until it was finished. The total height of the chedi is 77 meters, and the Buddha’s relics were summoned into the pagpda. In 1879, the Buddha’s relics were brought from India to be placed in the pagoda, and the Loy Krathong festival was held for 7 days and 7 nights. It has been practiced to the point where worshiping Buddha’s relics at the Golden Mountain Temple has become a tradition. The Buddha’s relics were enshrined inside the pagpda in a casket with Brahmi or Maurya characters inscribed that these Buddha relics belonged to the Buddha (Somna Gotom) and the Sakyarat family. It was shared during the offering of the Buddha’s body. The Buddha’s relics were discovered in Kapilavastu, India, in 1898. After that, on May 23, 1899, the Indian government gave it to Thailand during King Rama 5’s reign, and the king ordered it to be contained in the Phra Borom Banphot.
The Golden Mountain festival
Wat Saket Ratchaworawihan will host the “Wat Phu Khao Thong festival,” also known as the “Golden Mountain festival” or “The Worshiping Relic festival,” in November. There is a large merit event known as “The ceremony to bring the red robes to cover the Phra Borom Banphot” or “the red robes ceremony on the Golden Mountain,” which has been passed down for a long time. Since King Rama 5’s reign, the pagoda has been wrapped in red cloth on the eighth day of the waxing moon of the 12th lunar month. Tourists are welcome to attend the red robe ceremony because the temple is open to all who need to attend the event. Following the ceremony, there will then be a “celebration of the Buddha’s relics” or “Golden Mountain festival.” The Golden Mountain festival will last ten days and ten nights. It is a temple event with an atmosphere and colors reminiscent of the ancient era. Tourists interested in experiencing the old atmosphere In retrospect, don’t pass up an opportunity to attend a once-a-year event. At the event, a wide range of food items will be available for purchase. Traditional Thai desserts in various food styles are available, as well as a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a haunted house, darts, balloon darts, water guns, and fish scooping. or even live music and cultural performances to immerse tourists in the atmosphere of Thai temple fairs. The event begins at 6 p.m. and ends around 10 p.m. The festival is quite popular, and most people attend. Visitors should bring drinking water with them to quench their thirst and cool down.
How to travel
On the road to the emperor, in front of Wat Saket Ratchaworawihan. There are buses running through the Phu Khao Thong 1 bus stop, including lines 8, 15, 47, and 49. Buses run through the Phu Khao Thong 2 bus stop on the other side of the road: lines 8, 15, 37, 47, and 49.
Another option is to take a boat down the Maha Nak Canal. You can either come up to Khlong Saen Saep Pier in Pratunam or Bobae Pier. They will disembark at the last stop, the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge. Then walk for approximately 200 meters. If you have a private vehicle, you can park it in the courtyard of Wat Saket Rajawaramahaviharn.
The cost of the Ticket is 50 baths per one, If you would like to visit the temple purchasing a ticket in front of the temple that the only way