Wat Thammamongkhon

East of Bangkok on Soi 101, Th Sukhumvit, 95m-high Wat Thammamongkhon resulted from a monk's vision. While meditating in 1991, Phra Viriyang Sirintharo saw a giant jade boulder; at around the same time a 32 tonne block of solid jade was discovered in a Canadian riverbed. Viriyang raised over a half milion US dollars to purchase the block and commissioned a 14 tonne Buddha sculpture (carried out by Carrara sculptors) to go in a pavilion at Thammamongkhon. An image of this magnitude deserved a massive chedi.

The chedi, which contains a hair of the Buddha, was presented to Thailand by Bangladesh's Sangharaja (the head of a Theravada monastic order). It features an elevator so that you can ride to the top. The chedi's grand opening ceremony was held in 1993.

A leftover 10 tonne chunk of jade was carved into a figure of Kuanyin (the Chinese Buddhist Goddess of Mercy). Smaller left overs - a total of nearly eight tonnes - were made into amulets and sold to worshippers for US$20 each, to raise money for 5000 day care centres throughout Thailand.


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