Nakhon Pathom, only 56 kilometers west of Bangkok, is a city dating back to at least 150 B.C.,say the historians…a city rich with meaning to all Buddhists. As it was here Buddhism was first introduced to the country now known as Thailand.
Nakhon Pathom occupies an area of 2,168 sequare kilometers and administratively divided into six Amphoe and one King Amphoe: Muang, Bang Len, Don Tum, Kamphaeng Saen, Nakhon Chaisi, Sam Phran and King Amphoe Phuthamonthon.
NAKHON PATHOM 's ATTRACTIONS
Phra Pathom Chedi On coming toward the city, the first glimpse of towering Phra Pathom Chedi is overpowering. It is one of the largest in the world and in Thailand, by far the most holy of all Buddhist structures. Reaching to sky for just half an inch less than 380 feet, the dome shines like pure gold in the sunlight. The highly glazed tiles covering the dome are golden brown in color and were brought from China.
At the four point of the compass in the outer courtyard are four Viharns (halls) containing image of Buddha in various postures. The Eastern Viharn shows the image of Buddha beneath a delicately painted. Pho tree which cover the entire wall behind the image and is very unusual. The inter room is a Royal Chapel containing an altar where the King pays homage. The Southern Vihara shows the images of Buddha protected by a serpent. The Western Viharn contains image of Buddha in a reclining position, just before his death, surrounded by disciples, and an inner room contains yet another reclining image. The Northern Viharn, directly in front of the entrance and across from the frame building where the guides are located, contains a standing image of Buddha. The ashes of King Vajiravudh are buried at the base of this image.
The Chedi, from the base, is a breath-taking sight. The first original structure, on this same site and now inside the Chedi, was built. It is believed by indianized Mon people and resembled the Indian Stupa of the third century era of King Asoke. During his reign, the first Buddhist Saints were sent to spread Buddhism in the Kingdom of Suwannaphum, the first capital of that Kingdom being located on the site of present-day Nakhon Pathom. Later, when the area came under Khmer control, the Stupa was repaired and over-built with a Brahmin Prang, 130 feet high. During the region of King Mongkut(Rama IV) in the middle 1800's, it was again over built in its present Chedi-style structure. A repair of the original Stupa stands south of the present Chedi.
The Museum, nowadays at Rongdharm, contains a wealth of priceless relics. Many of the stone carvings and other articles are thousands of years old and much of it was found in and around Nakhon Pathom or the jungle nearby.
While still a Buddhist monk, King Mongkut had made a pilgrimage to Nakhon Pathom to visit the old ruined Prang. When he came upon the old structure he was deeply impressed with the realization that this was the spot where Buddhism was first taught in Thailand. He thought undoubtedly there must be a Buddha's relic inside and he decided to have the Prang rebuilt. When he became King, he immediately ordered reparation commenced and the work started in 1853. He passed away before his dream of restoration came true but Kings following him carried on the program.
An outer pavilion completely encircles a building, also circular, with the Chedi itself in the center. On the outside edge of the pavilion are mounds on which are growing the important trees connected with the life of the Buddha. On the inner side are small belfries spaced at intervals from which sweet-toned bells ring out from time. Stone images stand at attention before red lacquer moon-gate doors leading into the gallery. Other stones figures are carved to represent animals and some are the very old "Wheels of the Law" which were religious emblems prior to 143 B.C. when the images of Buddha were first carved. The Wheels were found in the immediate area during excavations and prove, without a doubt, the age of the city.
Wat Phra Prathon Chedi Situated in Wat Phra Prathon, 3 kilometers east of the Phra Pathom Chedi, is the second largest Chedi in the area. Its striking feature is the New Prang on a hillock about 20 meters above the ground.
Wat Phra Ngam A short distance away from the Nakhon Pathom Railway Station. Within the precincts of Wat Phra Ngam is a large mole-hill believed to be the base of a large ancient monument about the same age as Phra Pathom Chedi. This Wat was built during the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910).
Wat Phra Meru The main interest is in a large collection of hugh stone Buddha Images(about 5 meters high), the most beautiful of which has been installed at the main shrine hall of Phra Pathom Chedi.
Sanam Chan Palace and Ya-Le Monument This palace was constructed by the command of King Vajirawdh in the year 1907 when he was the Crown Prince of Thailand. It occupies an area of over 888 rai having Phraya Visavakam Silpa Prasit (Noi Silapi) as the designer. It was completed in the year 1911 having many important halls such as Phiman Pathom, Phirom Phakdi, Wachari Romaya, Samakkhi Mukkhamat, etc. In addition there are also many buildings such as Chali Mongkhon At, Thap Kaeo, Thap Khwan, etc. At present all these buildings of Sanam Chan Palace are utilized as the Provincial Hall (the Sala Klang Changwat) of Nakhon Pathom.
For Ya-Le Monument, it is the monument to Ya-Le, a cross breed dog; who was King Vajiravudh's favourite and had always accompanied him. One day Ya-Le was shot dead by an envious man and the king commanded to have a monument constructed as his commemmorative in front of Chali Mongkhon At Building in the compound of Sanam Chan Palace.
Rose Garden (Country Resort & Thai Village Cultural Show) Situated on Phetkasem Road about 32 kilometers from Bangkok. With the area cover 60 acres, it facilitate beautiful lawns, gardens, orchards, a first class hotel with swimming pool, restaurants, children's playground and the world-renowned Thai Village Cultural Show which is presented each afternoon. There are for instance, Thai folk dancing, Thai boxing, cock fighting and swo fighting demonstrations. For more information and reservation, please contact Tel: 2953261.
Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo Only about 31 kilometers from Bangkok or 1 kilometer before reaching The Rose Gargen, the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo offers tourists most spectacular show of handling tropical reptiles skilfully, including the crocodile wrestling show between man and crocodile. The highlight of the place is the exciting "Elephants Theme Show" which perform two times daily. The Shows demonstrate the elephant round-up from the jungle the training of baby elephants, elephants at work and play, elephant racing and the most exciting of all, the Elephant War Parade where both men and beasts are dressed in beautiful costumes. For more information, please contact Tel: 2841873, 2840273.
Phuttha Monthon This is an important Buddhist place of worship occupying an area of 2, 500 rai in the vicinity of Tambon Sala Ya, Amphoe Nakhon Chaisi and Tambon Bang Rathuk Amphoe Sam Phran. Within the compound various types of trees are grown. Replicas of important places concerning Buddhism have been constructed, e.g.,Lord Buddha's places of birth, gaining enlightenment, giving the first preaching sermon, and Nirvana. Additionally, there is also a Buddha image in the attitude of walking name "Phra Si Sakkaya Thotsaphonyan Prathan Phuttha Monthon Suthat" which is considered as the highest in the world (40.688 meters) and is enshrined in the compound.
Thai Human Imagery Museum Located at Km. 31, Pinklao-Nakhon Chaisi Road, the museum houses life-like sculptures created by a group of Thai artists, after 10 years of intensive study and hard work. These breathtaking figures are displayed in four sections: "The Great Buddhist Monks", "Former Kings of the Chakri Dynasty", "One Side of Thai Life" and "Playing Chess". The museum is open to public from 9.00 A.M.- 5.30 P.M. on weekdays and 8.30 A.M.- 6.00 P.M. on Saturday, Sunday and official holidays. Admission fee is baht 140 (Tel. O1-2116261).
Phra Pathom Chedi Fair During the seven-days November Fair, the grounds are packed with people. There are vendors of fruit, dried fish and meats: palmists and card fortune tellers, musicians with their cradle-like wooden instruments: saffron-robed monks and hundreds of families wander around the pavilion. It is Carnival Time, yet a deeply religious atmosphere prevails.