Wat Saket

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan (Thai: วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร, usually shortened to Wat Saket is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, Bangkok, Thailand.

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan
วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร (วัดสระเกศ)
The main wihan
AffiliationTheravada Buddhism
LocationBoripat Road, Khwaeng Ban Bat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100
Wat Saket is located in Bangkok
Wat Saket
Shown within Bangkok
Geographic coordinates13°45′14″N 100°30′29″E / 13.753864°N 100.508097°E / 13.753864; 100.508097
TypeThai Architecture
CompletedUnknown (believed to be Ayutthaya Period[1])
Wat Saket and Wat Ratchanatdaram, Bangkok
The Golden Mount
Historic photo of Wat Saket and Golden Mount during King Rama V's reign

The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was known as Wat Sakae (วัดสะแก). When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I (1737–1809) renovated the temple and gave it its present name. Its name roughly translated as "wash hair". Since it was believed that on the way the king returned from the war. He stopped by to take a bath and wash his hair here, before entering inner city.[2]

Phu Khao ThongEdit

Phu Khao Thong (“Golden Mountain”, ภูเขาทอง) is a steep artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound.

Rama I's grandson, King Rama III (1788–1851), decided to build a chedi of huge dimensions inside Wat Saket, but the chedi collapsed during construction because the soft soil of Bangkok could not support the weight. Over the next few decades, the abandoned mud-and-brick structure acquired the shape of a natural hill and was overgrown with weeds. The locals called it the phu khao (ภูเขา), as if it were a natural feature.[3]

During the reign of King Rama IV, construction began of a small chedi on the hill. It was completed early in the reign of his son, King Rama V (1853–1910). A relic of the Buddha was brought from Sri Lanka and placed in the chedi.[4] The surrounding concrete walls were added in the 1940s to stop the hill from eroding.[5] The modern Wat Saket was built in the early 20th century of Carrara marble.[6]

An annual festival is held at Wat Saket every November, featuring a candlelight procession up Phu Khao Thong to the chedi,[7] along with a long red robe wrapped around the chedi, similar to "Hae Pha Khuen That" (แห่ผ้าขึ้นธาตุ) festival of Wat Phra Mahathat, Nakhon Si Thammarat province in sounthern. Devotees write their names and names of family members on the robe and set the mind to pray, believed to have been fulfilled in prayer. This festival has been carried on since the reign of King Rama V.[8]

At the same period, a great Loi Krathong festival will take place at the temple, along with freak shows such as Phi Krasue ("floating female ghost head with glowing viscera dangling below", ผีกระสือ), Khon Song Hua ("two-headed man", คนสองหัว), Mia Ngu ("snake's wife", เมียงู), or fun games Sao Noi Tok Nam ("little girl falling into water", สาวน้อยตกน้ำ) etc.[9] It has been well known among Bangkokians since the past, also at nearby Fort Mahakan community was a hub of the fireworks shop. But after the demolition of the fort and its community, fireworks trading has been banned ever since.[10] [11] [12]

Phu Khao Thong is now a popular Bangkok tourist attraction and has become a symbol of the city.

Panoramic view from the Golden Mount

Vultures of Wat SaketEdit

Cement crematorium near Wat Saket in the past (circa 1900), the small spot on the crematorium's top are vultures waiting to eat the corpses. Nowadays, it has been dismantled and becomes Men Pun intersection at the end of the Sommot Amon Mak bridge
The vulture statues eats dead bodies in memory of the outbreak

In the early Rattanakosin period (between reigns of Rama I to Rama V) Wat Saket was often used as a place to cremate the dead within the city walls. Since it was located outside the city wall Siamese in those days had a tradition not to cremate the dead within the city walls, because it was believed to cause portentous. The bodies of the dead will be conveyed from the west gate known as the "Pratu Phi" (ประตูผี, "ghost gate", later neighbouring area Samran Rat).

In the year 1820 corresponding to the reign of King Rama II (1809–1824), cholera spread from Penang to Bangkok leading to more than 30,000 deaths in the capital. Wat Saket became the main receiving ground of many dead bodies that were moved in everyday, along with Wat Sangwet in Banglampoo and Wat Choeng Lane in Sampheng. Due to the large number of the deaths, the temple was unable to cremate every dead body, therefore, left some of them in the open area of the monastery where vultures began coming to devour those bodies. The communicable disease kept spreading every dry season in Siam until the early reign of King Rama V, and the temple became the main food court for vultures. Most severe was in 1840 during the reign of King Rama III when one out of ten people in Siam and the surrounding areas were killed by the disease. The last spreading of the disease took place in 1881. At that time as many as hundreds died each day.

These miserable events are in the memory of contemporary Siamese, until it was said that "Raeng Wat Saket" (แร้งวัดสระเกศ, "vultures of Wat Saket"), paired with "Pret Wat Suthat" (เปรตวัดสุทัศน์, "preta of Wat Suthat").[13][2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "WAT SRAKESA". WAT360.
  2. ^ a b Pralongchoeng, Kilane (3 October 2017). "หมุดหมายแห่งสระเกศ" [Placemark of Saket]. Thairath (in Thai). Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  3. ^ Old photo (around 1900) of dilapidated prang from the collection of Cornell University Library (last access 2009-09-24).
  4. ^ McDaniel, Justin Thomas (2011). The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand. ISBN 9780231527545.
  5. ^ Wikimapia: Temple of the Golden Mount or Phu Khao Thong (ภูเขาทอง) -Bangkok (Krungthep)
  6. ^ Norwich 2001, p. 266
  7. ^ Emmons 2008, p. 64
  8. ^ ""ห่มผ้าแดงภูเขาทอง" พิธีศักดิ์สิทธิ์ สิริมงคลสูงล้น ปฏิบัติสืบสานตั้งแต่สมัย ร.๕" ["Covering the red robe of the Golden Mount", a sacred ceremony high auspicious continuing from the reign of Rama V]. ASTV Manager (in Thai). 7 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  9. ^ krashkraft (9 November 2008). "sao noi tok nam". Flickr.
  10. ^ Hoffman, Carrie (6 November 2017). "Loi Krathong Festival at The Golden Mount". Yimyambkk. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  11. ^ Boonbandit, Tappanai (7 November 2019). "WHERE TO FLOAT YOUR KRATHONGS IN BANGKOK 2019". Khao Sod. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  12. ^ Atthakor, Ploenpote (18 January 2018). "Troops at Mahakan rattle locals". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  13. ^ "ความจริงไม่ตาย : ยักษ์วัดแจ้ง แร้งวัดสระเกศ เปรตวัดสุทัศน์" [Truth never dies : ogres of Wat Arun, vultures of Wat Saket, preta of Wat Suthat]. TPBS (in Thai). 18 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 13°45′14″N 100°30′24″E / 13.75389°N 100.50667°E / 13.75389; 100.50667

  1. ^ Piemmettawat, Paisarn (2015). Siam Through the Lens of John Thompson 1865-66 (1 ed.). River Books Press Ltd. p. 109. ISBN 9786167339511.
  2. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]