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……

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Posted by

Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

79 thoughts on “Meditating Beneath Metal Spires

  1. I really had no idea that Loha Prasat was inspired by the Brazen Temple. It’s really interesting to learn that two separate places that I know are actually more connected than I thought.

    1. Fascinating isn’t it? But try as I might, I was not able to pinpoint the original one in India. The location seems right, but the actual monastery is a blind alley. Shall have to hunt it down 🙂

    1. Thank you dear Soma. I wouldn’t wan’t to choose either, but I hope our planners ponder these alternatives when faced with similar situations.

  2. Amazing pictures and equally interesting story, isnt it something like Babri masjid story we had here in India, demolishing an old building to rescue an ancient one…! Thank you for sharing.

    1. First off, welcome to my blog Piya 🙂
      As for your question, not at all!
      Neither of these were ancient and both had little religious significance. The only connection might perhaps be the political motivation of the Chakri kings to wipe out any reminders of the brief military reign that sent them into exile.
      What monument did the demolition of the Babri Masjid save? Should we then demolish the Taj Mahal to expose the Shiv temple that it was allegedly built over? Where does one draw the line? And who decides cultural significance?
      There are any number of churches built over mosques, built over temples, across the world that are revered for their historical importance without bringing religion into play.
      Apologies for the rant Piya, particularly on your first visit here, but this is a sore point with me. The way it was done was a scary precedent that I hope never gets repeated…ever.

      1. Dear Madhu,

        First of all my apologies for touching the sore spot. What I meant was purely in terms of architecture (I am a Landscape and Architectural photographer) and didn’t really think on the religious or political terms. Ram janam bhumi buried under the babri masjid! I can imagine now, how sensitive this must be. While, I don’t know how glorifying the temple was or is today, I do know the decision to break on old mosque even from a neutral architectural point of view seems wrong to me.
        Once again, apologies for the discomfort caused, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. I will be back for more.

        Regards,

        Piya

        1. Nothing personal Piya, and no offense meant or perceived. I do tend to overreact to any issue concerning religious fundamentalism!
          Look forward to seeing you around 🙂

  3. Lovely photos of a very special place, Madhu 🙂

    I must admit, sadly, the Loha Prasat passed me by when we visited Bangkok last year. What a beautiful, peaceful place to visit.

  4. Dear Madhu,

    I love your images and your write-up adds depth and scope for my enjoyment of the visual treat served.

    Many thanks,
    Eric 🙂

    1. Thank you Niranjan. Your Khumb shots look amazing. Shall be over soon to lbrowse through them at leisure 🙂

    1. That was the blueprint for the Brazen temple in Sri Lanka Angeline, this one would have been done in pen and ink 😀

Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.