Wat Saket is a well-known tourist destination in Bangkok, and is famous for its 260 feet tall Golden Mount, the towering gold chedi, which once used to be the highest point of the capital.
The temple itself belongs originally to the Ayutthaya era, when it was called Wat Sakae.
Like many other similar temples, the wat was reconstructed and beautified by King Rama I during 1782-1909. The Golden Mount is actually an artificial hill which was constructed by King Rama III during 1824-1851. The hill and the temple have been subsequently rebuilt with stronger foundations by several kings of the Rama dynasty.
Several renovations and installations later, the mount has acquired its present status and scenario. The temple’s golden chedi is enshrined with a relic of the Buddha, and the statue is rumored of Indian or Nepalese origins.
It is interesting to note that Wat Saket has been used as a site for cremation and burial ceremonies. The fact was that since cremation and burial were not permitted inside the walls of the city, this temple has been used to do so. During a plague in the reign of King Rama II (1809-1824), 30,000 bodies were brought and cremated here.
Attractions – What to see
Tourists from all around the world make it a point to visit the temple to see the legendary Golden Mount, which can only be reached after leaving 318 steps behind you. Though a tedious task for some, for the adventure loving, it’s an exhilarating trip. The exhausting climb to the top is well worth it as you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of old Rattanakosin Island and the myriad city of Bangkok.
It is also the temple’s long historic past and its use as a cremation and burial site that attract visitors.
Loy Kratong festival
Wat Saket is also known for the annual Loy Kratong festival, which it hosts every late October to mid-November much to the delight of the tourists who see it as an opportunity to get in touch with the local culture.
The festival is among the largest temple festivals in Bangkok. During this festival, the Golden Mount is wrapped with red cloth. A carnival like atmosphere is to be seen around the mount.
During this festival tourists can participate and enjoy in the local food and trinket stalls. There are different sources of entertainment for the tourists like local theatre performances, animal shows, freak shows, any many other local means of entertainment. Prominent among the festivities is a candlelight procession which trails up to the Golden Mount.
History of Wat Saket
The serene and rich statue has a very interesting history to it.
When the Burmese were about to sack the city, it was covered in plaster to hide its value from the invaders. It remained disguised for two centuries and thought to be worth very little. It was only 1957, in the process of reinstalling it, that accidentally some of the plaster peeled off after a work accident, and the beautiful golden image was exposed.
This immensely valuable statue, in pure gold remains an architectural delight and one of the most fascinating tourist draws to the country.
Opening Time: 8.00am – 5.00pm
Entrance Fee: 100 Baht per person
Location: Phra Nakhon
Phone Number: 02-225-9595