Meditating Beneath Metal Spires

If only one of two historic monuments were to be saved from the wrecking ball based purely on antiquity, cultural relevance or singularity, which factor do you think should take precedence?

In a city full of Wats, the sacrifice of a heritage Art Deco theater to expose yet another Wat concealed behind it for years, and one of later vintage, was understandably controversial.

But the Loha Prasat (Metal Castle) in Bangkok, modeled on the ruins of the 3rd century Sinhala Lohaprasada or Brazen Temple – whose blueprint was said to have been drawn with red arsenic on linen by monks who had received divine inspiration – isn’t your typical Buddhist Wat. 

Metal Castle, Bangkok

Conceived by King Rama III in 1846, and not completed until 1972, it is the only one of its kind in Thailand. And the last of the three in the Buddhist world with solid cast iron roofs – (possibly) a 2500 year old monastery in Srivatti in India apart from the aforementioned Brazen Palace – that is still standing.

The multi-tiered pyramidal structure that began as a Chedi or stupa attached to the Wat Ratchanaddaram, comprises five concentric squares with alternate levels topped by 37 ornate metal spires that symbolise the 37 virtues leading to enlightenment.

It has since been transformed into a meditation center.  Spare, modern and conducive to reflection. Its maze of corridors framing views of mini altars. Its backbone, the central spiral staircase, symbolically elevating us to a higher state…..in this instance the topmost sanctuary with the relics of the Buddha.

Along the way each narrow landing begs exploration, where little alcoves with polished red oxide floors invite us to linger. To be  mindful. To breathe……

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Until next time………happy travels, no matter where life takes you.

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Hi, I'm Madhu. Wanderer. Travel blogger. Story teller. Bitten late and hard by the travel bug, I am on a mission to make up for lost time.

79 thoughts on “Meditating Beneath Metal Spires

  1. Madhu, what an amazing gallery – stunning photos (again) – love how you have played with angles and light – my pick has to be two this time .. View of Wat Ratchanaddaram, because of the light between the building & Cho Fa roof finials, where the modern world is in the background. Absolutely stunning job.

    1. Appreciate the compliment Viveka 🙂 I loved those roof details. and the modern city hazily lurking in the background, heightened the tranquil feeling somehow!

  2. What a great place to meditate. You take really beautiful photos Madhu.
    I don’t think one can answer your question. Its like the question in the book/movie “Sophie’s Choice” when she had to chose which of her children to save.

    1. Thank you Rosie. That question was meant to underline the dilemma 🙂 Breaks my heart when people go around demolishing precious structures with impunity.

  3. Of course, if the obscuring structure had been a religious building, there would have been an even greater outcry but I think the question is better rephrased in terms of overall town planning, or amenity. From the look of your second shot – they’ve probably made the right choice. Removing the theatre has opened up an entire precinct, as well as displaying the obscured temple, creating beauty and a new urban space.

    Its’ pedigree nothwithstanding, I loved the sense of lots of individual vignettes and private places – a lovely little temple.

  4. Excellent photos – peaceful, calming. I especially love the red oxide floors. I agree, Madhu. Some of these structures need to be preserved because of their architecture, their historical significance, etc.

  5. How beautiful. You posed a very difficult question. Though, I am inclined to favor antiquity – if something survives that lone, it tells a lot about the skill, culture, nature, and everything else of the people who conceived the idea and made it real. the structure, having survived that long, deserves to survive some more – to honor art, culture, and those who built it.

    Any structure can meet a certain need and purpose, but not just anything can meet the need for a people to connect with their past in a most genuine way. 🙂

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