Wat Dhammamongkon

The temple as seen from the Skytrain station The temple as seen from the Skytrain station

The tower of Wat Dhammamongkon (more commonly spelled Wat Dhammamongkol, but 'Dhammamongkon' is the correct pronunciation) is visible from a number of places in Bangkok, especially any one of the elevated expressways around town. I first visited the temple out of curiosity several years ago, around 2005, but I didn't write it up then because it was so far away and not really worth the trip on its own. However, now that the Skytrain has been extended, the new Punnawithi station is a short 10 minute walk from the temple.

The shrine within the chapel at the top of the tower The shrine within the chapel at the top of the tower

The temple, on the outskirts of Bangkok, is relatively new. It was started in the early 1960s by a revered monk who had spent more than 20 years in a forest retreat. He came to Bangkok and began raising funds to build a unique temple. The 95 meter high tower, completed in 1985, is a modern rendition of the tower that now marks the place of the Buddha's enlightenment in Bodhgaya, India. Inside the tower are 12 floors, housing classrooms for the temple's career development center, a radio station and a museum. The museum starts on the tenth floor, which is as high as the elevator goes. The museum is a large collection of Buddhist texts, monk's fans, bowls, statues and other temple furnishings. The items are stuffed into display cases with no labels or interpretive information. Above the museum is a sort of meditation area, and above that is the chapel within the bell-shaped chedi at the top of the tower. The inside of the room is covered in mirrored tiles.

The jade Buddha under its bronze dome The jade Buddha under its bronze dome

Next to the tower is a large domed building housing a huge Buddha statue carved from a single block of jade (technically, it's nephrite from Canada, which is why it's almost black rather than green). The inside of the dome above the Buddha is covered with bronze (?) panels depicting the life of the Buddha. Behind the Buddha is a statue of Kuan Im, carved from the same block of stone as the Buddha.

Sadly, the workmanship on the monumental buildings was rather poor, and as of August 2011 it was in very bad shape. Floor tiles were peeling off, chunks of plaster were falling down, and the ornamental pond was obviously leaking badly.

Getting to Wat Dhammamongkon

The temple is off Sukhumvit Soi 101 in the southeastern suburbs of Bangkok. The easiest way to reach there is by Skytrain to the Punnawithi station. See the station map for more directions.