Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wat Rakang

Wat Rakang Kosittharam Mahawihan (วัดระฆังโฆสิตารามวรมหาวิหาร) is one of the 32 temples in Bangkok Noi district, but one of the most significant. And since I love to explore the city by walking, this temple makes a good target as it's just 3 kilometer away from where I normally stay. I have thus visited there twice, and only lack of time and lots of other targets made me skip this tour the last two times I was in Bangkok.

The main feature of the temple is the bell tower, because those bells gave the temple its name - Rakang (ระฆัง) is the Thai word for bell. The temple got its name when the original bell was moved to Wat Phra Kaeo by King Rama I, and the king sent back five new bells as the replacement. These bells were hanging in the bell tower in the southeast of the compound, but are now in Wat Phra Sri Rattanasattadaram in Bangkhen district, so the bells seen here are replacements of the replacements.

The bot is also well worth to go inside, it not only has a big Buddha statue like most temples, but even more noteworthy are the murals on the walls. Though a bit weathered already they are still worth looking at. Since 1949 they are registered as a national heritage site.

Around the bot are several small and large chedis, and one can see that temple is also a popular place for the final rest - in the walls and chedis it has many urns with the photos of the deceased. I have however only taken one photo of the largest of these chedis.

Another noteworthy building is the library, at first look an inconspicuous wooden building hidden between the trees next to the bot. In my first walk there I hardly noticed it, only to learn later about its significance. Sadly during my second visit the building was under reconstruction, so the photo shows more of the scaffolding than the actual building.

Towards the river is a large temple market, mostly selling those stuff Buddhist need for making merit - incense sticks, flowers, buckets full of items for the monks, animals to set free to gain "tambun", but of course also some small food stalls. But if you are looking for a "normal" market, just walk north next to the historic Patravadi theater towards Sirirat hospital. The last part of this walk then inevitably leads you through that market.

Apart from walking there, the temple is quite easy to reach as it is located very close to the Chao Phraya river. The Wat Rakang pier (photo) itself is only used by ferries or hired boats, but the nearby Phran Nok pier is serviced by the Express boats, and then walk from that pier towards Wat Rakang through the market.

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