About 40 kilometers west of Bangkok in Thailand, lies the Dragon Temple, one of the most peculiar Buddhist temples of them all. It is not an austere and isolated site as we usually imagine these monasteries to be, but lives up to its name as it is a 17-story high red tower that is completely surrounded by a gigantic dragon. Also called Wat Samphran, the temple offers guided tours that allow you to climb the tower through the entrails of the huge reptile.
The Buddhist temple Wat Samphran
Away from the capital of Thailand, about 40 kilometers west of Bangkok, lies the district of Samphran, the southernmost region of the Nakhon Pathom province. In the heart of Samphran is one of the most astounding Buddhist treasures, the Dragon Temple, which amazes all visitors with its impressive architecture.
[Photo: Igor Prahin]
The temple is composed of a red tower in a circular shape, which rises from the ground and stands out from all the houses in Samphran. According to the monks of the temple, the tower is 80 meters high in honor of the Buddha’s age when he passed.
The building, which looks like something out of a fairy tale, has a total of 17 floors, but that is not the most impressive thing about it. What is most striking is the huge oriental dragon that surrounds the tower. Many say it resembles the mythical Shen Long from the Japanese manga Dragon Ball. The untamed dragon is hollow inside, and it is possible to climb the tower through its entrails to reach the top of the building.
[Photo: Grant Cameron]
The mysteries of the Dragon Temple
To enter, a Buddhist ritual must be performed, a hand must be placed on the dragon’s claws while saying a prayer inscribed at the entrance of the tower. Whether you decide to climb through the entrails of the dragon or the main gate, both experiences have their surprises.
The tower welcomes visitors with a coffin and photographs of a monk who seems to dwell in peace in it. The nuns in charge of receiving visitors explain that it is the former monk Phra Jam Long, who began the construction of the temple in 1985. After completing the work, he spent 38 days in the coffin without breathing and without a beating heart and then awoke from his long meditative state.
[Photo: Grant Cameron]
Along the tour, through the floors of the tower, you can admire different scenes of Buddhism, such as the birth of Buddha and other statues important to the religion. But it is the summit that attracts the most attention of visitors. Once they reach the highest part of the temple, they find a spectacular view of the city and other statues located in front of the tower. It is also the place where you can admire the colossal dragon’s head up close and, if you believe in good luck, you can stroke the reptile’s chin while making a wish.
Undoubtedly, this is the most peculiar Buddhist temple in Thailand because very rarely is it possible to admire a gigantic dragon embracing such a high tower.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera