Friday, July 20, 2007

No, your eyes are not deceiving you

At first glance, this might look like a Gothic Church. Take a closer look.

And you'll see the Buddha sitting up on the altar instead of Christ.

The temple is called Wat Niwet Thamprawat, and was built by the Western leaning King Chulalongkorn in 1878. This is an active Buddhist temple which is cleverly disguised as a Gothic church, down to the spiky eaves and stained glass windows, and can be found in the city of Bang Pa-In, 60KM north of Bangkok near the old Thai capital of Ayutthaya (where I am now), which was abandoned after the Burmese destroyed it.. Getting there is supposed to be half the fun, as a basic motorized cable car swings visitors across the river!

The cable car station is hidden behind the Bang Pa-In parking lot, which explains why the temple doesn't get many Western visitors.

The story of Bang Pa-in is rather tragic.

n 1881, Queen Sunanda Kumariratana and her only daughter Princess Karnabhorn Bejraratana were on their way to the Bang Pa-In Palace when the royal barge carrying them capsized. According to Thai law at the time, touching a royal was punishable by death, so onlookers looked on helplessly as they drowned - and were instructed to do so by a guardian on another boat. King Chulalongkorn, shocked by the events, demoted and jailed the vizier who obeyed the letter of the law at such cost and erected a memorial to her in Bang Pa-In.

I did not manage to see any of these attractions though... just sat in the office all day. Credit the above to the ever informative Wikipedia.


Steven Sim said... blog. I m a christian from Penang too.

Saw ur profile... some of your interests resonate with mine.

Maybe we can talk further...beam me scheekeong [at] gmal [dot] com

Vidimusdominum said...

Hi Andrew, I may be heading to Penang from 8 Aug to 11 Aug. I'll be putting up with relatives in King Street. Do you know of any Catholic Parishes in this area?

Is King Street nearer to Gurney Drive, Tanjung Bungah or Komtar?

Thanks a million.

Do send me an e-mail :)

Anonymous said...

I saw Wat Niwet Thamprawat a few years ago, and thought it was fascinating. Thanks for reminding me of my visit :)

Drew of the Holy Whapping