27 Jul Wat Sampran Dragon Temple
Wat Sampran Dragon Temple in Nakorn Pathom Thailand.
Commanding an aerial perspective to truly appreciate its scale, the Wat Sampran Dragon Temple in Thailand’s Nakhorn Pathom Province is one of those impressive hidden gems you may not know to visit, unless you’re told.
Found just 40 kilometers from Bangkok and officially registered in 1985, the main attraction is the towering 17-storey tall red-pink tower with a statue of an enormous dragon wrapped around it.
The grounds consist of smaller temples and many statues, mostly inspired by dragons and the Chinese zodiac. The interior of the dragon sculpture is hollow and contains a staircase, making it possible to walk some sections from the forked tail on the ground, to the very top where at the head there is a shrine.
Stretching 80 meters high, symbolic of the age that Buddha reached; the tower has 16 visible stories and a basement, yet visitors are only allowed to two of these floors. The basement is said to be where the religious documentation are stored, and floors 3 to 17 are home to the resident monks.
Green dragon scales, fins and the tail of the dragon appear poised for protection, the legs, fingers and nails lifelike. A common belief suggests that one can draw strength from the dragon’s power and many people visit for encouragement and courage, spending time with the palms of their hands pressed into the dragon, in mediation and in prayer.
When you visit the temple make sure to explore the grounds as you’ll find many interesting treasures including giant sculptures of giant animals including an elephant, rabbit, dolphins and a large building shaped like a tortoise. Take the time to walk in and out, upstairs and downstairs, as your curiosity and effort will be rewarded. It is recommended that you employ the services of one of the local guides who can tell you more about eh exhibits, rituals and ceremonies held in the temple.
Next to the tower is a large golden Buddha statue, halls where pilgrims meet for prayer, ancient relics, murals on the walls, and brightly painted wooden carvings of angels on the doors.
The Wat may be off the beaten track and you may struggle to find information on it in the guidebooks, but it is well worth a visit and will offer a tranquil and spiritual atmosphere as well as a few unanswered questions about who designed it, and why. Both remain somewhat a mystery.
For the best photography vantage point, remember to stop a distance away and look down.
How to get there: From Bangkok take Highway 4 towards Samphran, after about 40kms passing the Elephant Ground and Rose Garden, you will then cross the large bridge over the river and just after turn left on the road that will bring you to the rather discreet entrance to Wat Samphran.
Address: Sam Phran 11, Khlong Mai, Sam Phran, Nakhon Pathom
Photo credit Richard Barrow – http://www.richardbarrow.com/