The Golden Mount
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is known for its magnificent temples and grandiose shrines.Â When youâ€™re in Bangkok or youâ€™re planning to take a trip to Bangkok, donâ€™t miss to visit one of the cityâ€™s most remarkable shrines â€“ the Golden Mount.
Golden Mount is part of the Wat Saket temple situated just outside the historic Rattanakosin Island. Wat Saket temple is one of Thailandâ€™s oldest temples which have been long-standing until now. This notable temple is laden with rich history dating back to the Ayutthaya era which existed from 1351 to 1767. It was originally named Wat Sakae until its restoration by the order of the first king of Rattanakosin King Rama I who later gave the temple a new name â€“ Wat Saket.
Wat Saket temple served as a cremation site for the poor who canâ€™t afford a funeral during the times of King Rama II regime when an epidemic hit Bangkok that took the lives of more than 10,000 people.
The Golden Mount of Wat Saket
Most people visit Wat Saket to see the templeâ€™s most splendid edifice â€“ the Golden Mount.Â Known as Phu Khao Thong by the locals, this magnificent structure stands 80 meter high with a huge stupa on top which was encased with gold. The pinnacle of the Golden Mount was once deemed as the highest peak in Bangkok.
The Golden Mount itself is surrounded by its remarkable history. During the reign of King Rama III in the nineteenth century, he decided to construct a large mound-like structure (chedi) to serve as an entrance sign to the city. Unfortunately, the soft muddy ground wasnâ€™t able to support the mass of the large chedi and it collapsed before it can be completed.
The succeeding king, Rama IV decided to rebuild the fallen structure. A small chedi was built on top of the mud and brick mound which was made higher with stacks of large logs to prevent the soil from eroding any further. The chedi was again rebuilt by the succeeding King Rama V when he needed a much larger and more ornate chedi to house a Buddha relic which was given to him by an Indian viceroy as a royal gift. During WW II, the mount was again reconstructed with the use of concrete to sustain the artificial hill and prevent it from eroding.
Since then, the Golden Mount has enticed heaps of locals and foreigners alike. The base of the mount is surrounded with lush vegetation, several small graveyards and large shrines.
You can reach the gilded mount by climbing up a wide spiral stairway around the sides of the mount.Â The spiral stairway consists of 318 steps in a gentle slope with a number of platforms where you can take a rest for a while and enjoy a scenic view from where you are. When you go there during winter season, youâ€™ll be able to see and smell the blooming frangipani trees around the base. When you reach the top, youâ€™ll need to pay an admission fee of $0.30 to be able to enter the stupa and see the view of Bangkok from the rooftop terrace. The stupa holds the celebrated Buddha relic and you can behold the famous shrine coated with several layers of gold leaf that gave the name â€˜Golden Mountâ€™ for over 100 years.
From the shrine, a narrow stairway leads up to the rooftop that holds a large chedi housing thousands of gold mosaic tiles and a terrace where you can get a 360 degree view of the city and its noteworthy landmarks such as the Bangkok business district, parts of the Rama VI bridge, peaks of Democracy Monument and Wat Ratchanadda.
If you want to witness the Loy Krathong festival, visit Wat Saket in early November where the feast is being held yearly. In the night of the 12th Thai moon, a candle procession of people wearing long red cloth over their heads climb the stairs up to the Golden Mount and drape the base of the chedi with the red cloth.
How to get there
You can get a taxi from your hotel to Wat Saket since there are no MRT subway stations or BTS Sky Train nearby. You can also stop at Phan Fa Lilat by taking the Khlong Saen Saeb canal boat.
Admission and opening hours
Wak Saket is open to the public daily from 8 am to 5 pm for free. However, an admission fee is charged if you want to enter the chedi.