THE MOST SPECTACULAR OF PATTAYA’S UNDISCOVERED TREASURES
Just outside Pattaya is a repository of Buddhist iconography that few tourists get a chance to visit, yet it is a Must See if you want to gain a true impression of Thailand. It is composed of three unique venues:
1. Wat Yansangwararam
2. The Buddha Mountain
3. Viharnra Sien
Located off Sukhumvit Highway, 16 km. south of Pattaya, just before Nong Nooch Village. Turn left and continue 4 km. west until you reach "Wat Yansangwararam”
1. Wat Yansangwararam or Wat Yan, for short, was completed in 1976, to commemorate King Naresuan the Great (1590 - 1605) and King Tak Sin the Great (1767-1782). Both of whom helped liberate the kingdom of Siam from Burmese oppression. Wat Yan is also dedicated to the Supreme Patriarch, or head of the Thai monastic order, Somdej Phra Yanasangworn. Later, in1982, it became a Royal Wat under the King Bhumibol’s patronage who instituted a new development programme. Over 27 billion baht is reputed to have been spent building it.
Located on a 7-hilled plot of 366 rai (146 acres), this wat complex must be one of the most impressive Buddhist establishments in the world. Housed amongst floral splendour, with lakes, carp-filled ponds and other water features, there are a myriad of architectural styles including:
• a number of Buddhist wats
• a Khmer mandapa, containing a reproduction of the Lord Buddha’s footprint;
• a white, 40-metre tall chedi, housing relics of the Buddha and his disciples;
• a Swiss Chalet; and
• shrines of Indian and Japanese design;
• statues of King Rama VII and his wife, the Princess Mother;
• statues of 20 revered monks;
• wildlife preserves and breeding facilities;
• a school, and
• a hospital..
• Buddha Pada hill, accessed by 288 steps
2. Buddha Mountain", Khao Chee Chan, or "Phra Phuttha Maha Vachira Utta, or Mopas Sasada" as it also known, is a spectacular Buddha effigy of a seated Buddha of the Sukhothai-era. In fact, at 130 metres tall and 70 metres wide, it is the largest Buddha image in the world.
Phra Phuttha Maha Vachira Utta Mopas Sasada is actually an image inscribed onto the face of the mountain. Instigated by His Majesty King Bhumibol in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his accession, the King's 1996 Golden Jubilee, the image was carved, using laser technology, in two days, but it took several months more to inlay the image with gold leaf at a cost of approximately 150 million baht. Signs below the image indicate where you can view the image from its most advantageous perspective and also designate the homage paying area.
The park immediately below the Buddha image has been laid out with the intention of inducing a respectful atmosphere of mediation. It contains several meditational salas, shrines, a series of terraced pools in which lotuses, the Buddha’s favourite flower, raise their heads above the water, and ornamental gardens.
3. Viharnra Sien (‘Abode of the Gods’) or Anek Kusala Sala (‘Multipurpose Pavilion’).
Built in 1993 within the royal temple of Wat Yansangwararam, in honour of His Majesty the King, Viharnra, by the Chinese-Thai community, this site is a fascinating museum of cultural artefacts, objects d’arts, antiques, works of art and religious statues from all over China and Thailand. The 3 storey museum, next to a lake, is housed within a traditionally decorated pavilion which resembles a Chinese palace.
The museum contains
• Buddha images and a series of paintings illustrating the Lord Buddha’s life.
• replicas of the famed X’ian terracotta warriors
• giant T’ai Chi symbols (yin-yangs)
• brass sculptures of Chinese gods
• a pair of huge granite Peking Lions.
• a white jade statue of Goddess of Mercy - Guan Yin
• ancient Chinese pottery,
• painted silk scrolls,
• multi-coloured dragons
• huge decorated vases and urns
• Thai National dress over the years,
• replicas of the royal barges of His Majesty the King
• carriages used by the Royal family across the ages
The museum is open from 8:00-17:00. Entry fee: 50 Baht.
Unfortunately, the Abbot isn’t over keen on publicizing the wat complex, nor are travel agents prepared to lay on conducted tours, which is not to say that tourists aren’t welcome, they are. It’s best to go independently, which has the advantage of imposing no time constraints. Strict dress code is observed.
Although there are publications in Thai, none exist in English; the various exhibits are labelled in both English and Thai, however.