The main attraction when visiting Wat Rachanadda Buddhist Temple in Bangkok must surely be the multi-tiered Loha Prasat Monastery or metal castle as it is known. It’s inescapably the most striking feature here. The monastery is 36 metres high with 37 metal spires signifying 37 virtues toward enlightenment.
In 1846 Loha Prasat was initially fashioned around an earlier Sri Lankan Temple. Originally conceived as a Chedi to compliment the Wat, it has since evolved into an elaborate Meditation Chamber. Meditation cells can be seen at intersections dissected by passages on each level of the building. They run from north to south and from east to west if this makes any sense to you.
The actual Prasat itself consists of five concentric square towers with the outer, middle and centre structures being crowned with cast iron spires hence the name Metal Castle. Supporting the towers at ground level are hefty laterite columns collectively forming an astonishing labyrinth of corridors. You’ll be amazed.
Exploring Loha Prasat Monastery and Wat Rachanadda
Finding your way around the corridors to the spiral staircase in the central tower is all part and parcel to an exciting experience. There are pictures depicting the history of this unique stylish structure on display in many of the passageways. Should you be fluent in Thai, you will surely have no trouble reading the text too.
The building consists of only five stories, all of which can easily be reached by ascending the central free-standing metal staircase. There are equally a similar number of entry points on each level to disembark and then to explore at leisure.
The stairwell finally leads to roof level on the fourth floor and an outside walkway. Here you will have a splendid view of the Golden Mount across the street. You can view the temple shrine by climbing up one last stairway to the top level.
Although entrance to the grounds is free to all visitors, a small contribution of around 20 Baht would be greatly appreciated. You will find a donation box just inside the entrance gate near the monastery. Let generosity be your virtue.
Before you go, don’t forget to step outside into the courtyard where behind the temple, you will find Bangkok’s best Amulet Market. That’s what I’m told anyway. There are others around but this particular market seems to be very popular.
Two things to remember:
Firstly, prices here tend to be more expensive and secondly but most important, any person attempting to take one very specific talisman home as a souvenir, out of a wide range of talismans on offer, could end up red-faced. There are stalls here selling a wide variety of carved wooden phallic charms thought to help one to accumulate vast wealth, but I have to say, I have my doubts.
Getting to Wat Rachanadda
You’ll find the temple complex located in a part of the old royal city precinct at an intersection between Ratchadamnoen Klang and Maha Chai Road. That’s in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district. They are open daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.
It’s best to take a taxi as it seems other types of public transport are just not available. There is no direct route by Skytrain and no River Boat Pier close enough for you to take a short walk. Walking long distances in the heat is not a good idea. The only other way would be to take the Chao Phraya River Boat Express to the Memorial Bridge Pier and then take a taxi from there.