One and Only “Metal Castle” in the world at Wat ratchanatdaram
Wat ratchanatdaram Wora Vihara or called in short “Wat Ratchanadda” is another superior monastery of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. The temple locates close to Maha Kan Fort adjoining to Mahachetsadabodin Royal Pavilion – the venue to receive the state guests. The prominent object of Wat Radchanadda that is outstanding attract the sight from anybody who travels along the Ratchadamnoen Road is “Loha Prasart” or the Metal Castle that was built by King Rama III in 1846 with the purpose to nurture the Buddhism religion. Initially, the king acknowledged that since the ancient age, there were only two metal castles to be built devoting to the Buddha which is the first one of which the pinnacle of the castle is the gold created by Visakha the chief female lay disciple of Gautama Buddha at Sravasti.
And another one with the copper rood was constructed in Sri Lanka in 352 Buddhist eras. The King Nangklao graciously built the metal castle to honor to the capital of Rattanakosin Kingdom instead of the pagoda as other conventional monasteries. The Loha Prasart at Wat Ratchanatdaram considered the third metal castle in the world.
Background of the Monastery
Wat Ratchanatdaram Wora Vihara is a second grade of the third-class royal monastery established in the early of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. The memorial temple was made to honour his niece Princess Somanass Waddhanawathy who became the first consort of King Mongkut with the title “Queen Somanass Waddhanawathy”.
King Rama III commanded Chaophraya Yommarat (Boonnak Yommarat) design the floor plan of the complex and supervise the construction of the ubosot (ordination hall), Vihara (chapel), and sala Karn Parian (sermon hall). And Chao Phraya Si Phiphat designed and controlled the building of the “Loha Prasart”, and Phraya Maha Yotha constructed the monk’s cell including the wall and embankment around the holy site. Presently, the monastery is the prominent landmark as the entrance to the Rattanakosin Island which is one of the most tourist attractions in Bangkok that any travelers must not miss.
The Mahachetsadabodin Royal Pavilion is a broad ground with the pavilion that the king uses to greet the state guests and also it is the venue of the Memorial Monument of King Rama III (the former title is Prince Chetsadabodin). The monument completed in the reign of King Bhumibhol.
The Architectural of Art at Wat Ratchanatdaram
Ubosot or the ordination hall of Wat Ratchanatdaram Wora Vihara is Thai architecture with Chofa (the gable apex) and Bai Raga (the toothlike gable ends representing to the fin of Naga) which is different from one at Wat Thepthidaram that is in Chinese style. The ordination hall situates between the chapel and the sermon hall designed and constructed by Chao Phraya Yommarat (Boonnak Yommarat). King Nangklao and Queen Somanass Waddhanawathy the consort of King Rama IV when she was as the Princess Somanass presided over the laying the foundation stone ceremony dated on August 6, 1846, and the ubosot be named on November 4, in the same year.
The architecture is Thai masonry building which is the early Rattanakosin art. It’s two levels high base with the square pillars at the lower platform to support the eaves, pediment, and roof are 5 columns at the front and back, and the side is 12 pillars for each with the balcony. The second platform is raised up and is 2 entrances. The rood covered with the blue and yellow porcelain ornamenting the Chofa, Bai Raga, and Hang Hong (the roof accessories).
Phra Buddha Setthatamamunindra
Interior is where the house of the subduing Mara Buddha image named “Phra Buddha Setthatamamunindra” which means “the Lord Buddha who the most esteem beyond any holy man”. The remarkable statue is 3.5 meters of the lap size cast from copper from Chan Tuk in Nakorn Ratchasima province. In the reign of King Chulalongkorn, the Buddha image was lacquered and gilded and complemented with the 5-tier umbrella.
Apart from that, the ubosot also is the magnificent Frescos at the front and the back inwardly. The mural painting is the life of the Buddha. When the Buddha went to spend the Rains-Retreat in the Trayastrimsa Realm to give the sermon to his mother and descended from the Trayastrimsa Realm when the end of the lent period which is distinctive from other temples that often to tell the story of the “Conqueror Buddha” – the Gautama Buddha conquers the Demon Mara during the path to entering the enlightenment. The sided wall is the picture of the heaven included the welkin, groups of stars, 27 groups of planets surrounded with the celestial beings. The window panels are furnished with the deva of the planets, the sun, and the moon together with the group of deity soaring in the sky.
Vihara of Wat Ratchanatdaram
Vihara or the Chapel is an elegant construction with the great and exquisite pediment which decorated with lacquer, gild, and colour-glass mosaic in the cotton rose pattern. Inside the chapel is where the place to enshrine “Phra Chuti Dhamnarasop” a Buddha image in the attitude of stopping the rainstorm supplemented with the delicate work of the stucco platform covered with the gold leaves and stained glasses.
The Walls of the Temple
The Walls of the Temple which are the exterior wall and the defensive wall inside. The external wall is copied the city wall, and there is a large pavilion at the front of the temple with the staircases connecting to the pavilions inside the complex that is flanked to the right and left entrances 1 for each. It is a strong masonry structure in Thai design which represents the strength of the barrier. The wall is opposite to the city wall and Maha Karn Fort. Each squared-shape pillar on the wall is massive to support the structure of the roof and to compatible with other structures inside the monastery complex which are all elegant and splendid.
Loha Prasart, the Metal Palace
Wat Ratchanatdaram Wora Vihara is a meaningful temple towards the sovereign of the Chakri Dynasty. Besides the precious architectures as mentioned previously, the place also is the extraordinary construction which is “Loha Prasart” another iconic Buddhist landmark paired to the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the spiritual anchor of the Buddhist in Thailand for a long age.
Loha Prasart or well-known among the foreigners is “the Metal Castle” was built since King Rama III’s reign and the completion is about 130 years after in the era of the late King Bhumibhol (Rama IX of Siam). It is the third metal castle in the world, and it is only one that still exists in perfect condition. The other metal castles are in India and Sri Lanka (former is Ceylon), and both are collapsed. The building reflects the firm faith of the kings of Chakri House to the Buddhist.
The prominence of the Metal Castle
The notable castle is the first metal castle in Thailand which is the 7-stories building with 37 pinnacles which means “Bodhipakkhiyadhamma” the Buddhist seven sets of thirty-seven qualities conducive to Enlightenment. Also, the top of the castle on the 7th Floor is where to enshrine the Buddha’s relic. The edifices within the complex are all exquisite Thai architecture of art, for example, the ordination hall that decorated with the magnificent craftsmanship gild and mosaic in the gable apex, gable ends, and inside it houses the main object of the hall “Phra Settha Tamamunee”. Additionally, another important Buddha image of the temple which is not less worshipful among the local Buddhist are the stopping rainstorm attitude Buddha image called “Phra Buddha Chutidhamnarasop” which enshrined inside the chapel.
The Loha Prasart features the interesting exhibition of the castle included history and construction process. The structure has the 67-step spiral staircase at the centre leading us to the excellent 360-viewpoint that offers you a fantastic scenery of the Rattanakosin Island together with the vintage picture of the place for you to compare with the present day.
The Metal Castle consists of
- First Floor: Exhibition of Background of the Metal Castle
It is an exhibition hall to present the history and information of the Metal Castle from now and then via the touch screen video and animation media. Moreover, there are the seats for meditation setting around the gallery for anyone who would come for pilgrimage or meditation at the temple.
- 2nd Floor: Dhamma Balcony
When you walk to the 2nd Floor, you will arrive at the place offering for the public that is interested in study the Buddhist dhamma. Numbers of the dhamma books stored inside the bookcase offering for the visitors, including Buddha’s quotes and dhamma proverbs.
- 3rd Floor: Walking Meditation
The space designed to be the place for walking meditation for monks, neophytes, and the general public. Further, the information regarding the definition of the walking meditation and guideline to make proper walking meditation.
- 4th Floor: Meditation
A tranquil and quiet area which is perfect to do the meditation. Also, the information about the meditation practice for monks, novices, and the general public.
- 5th Floor: the Pinnacle
The best place to spot the pinnacle of the Metal Castle. Moreover, the space set up the exhibition to describe the Four Stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism namely Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant
- 6th Floor: 360 degrees Viewpoint
It considered another most magnificent location to experience the view of Rattanakosin Island. The spot features you the stunning scenery of the beautiful architectures included the Golden Mountain, Wat Arun, Wat Suthat, the Grand Palace, for instance.
- 7th Floor: Worship to the Buddha’s relic
The floor is the venue to enshrine the Buddha’s relic allowing for the public and the disciples to pay respect to the most sacred Buddhist object.
(*** The place opens to the visitors between 9.00am-5.00pm daily)
How to Get to Wat Ratchanatdaram
Wat Ratchanatdaram Wora Vihara opens every day from 9.00am through 5.00pm. The visitors can travel to the temple by hopping in the taxi or Took Took. The temple grounds on the left of Maha Karn Fort next to the Mahachetsadabodin Royal Pavilion.