Prasat Satchatham - the power of wood

The Sanctuary of Truth The Sanctuary of Truth Creative Common BY-SA

Under this strange and difficult to pronounce name hides a mysterious building filled with the scent of resin and wood. It’s a monumental temple, in which human suddenly feels weak and small, but also a place, in which one forgets about the outside world. Paradoxically, this enclave of magic and peace is located in the immediate vicinity of the city center, which is known for its enormous debauchery, being a destination for tourists who like to “pay for love”. We’re speaking of a Thai resort, Pattaya, situated about 120 km from the capital city, on the Gulf of Siam, and the mentioned temple is called Prasat Satchatham, The Sanctuary of Truth.

Paradoxes of Pattaya

Those, who are interested in this amazing building, should spend more time at the resort. There’re lots of temples here, and each of them deserves a special attention. Pattaya itself is a medium-sized city, loud and crowded, not only in the season. No wonder – it’s one of the most famous resorts in whole Asia, also loved by the Thai people themselves, especially by the residents of Bangkok. Its popularity is gradually increasing, which is due not only to its attractions, but also ease of accessibility. The nearest airport is located about 75 minutes drive through a modern highway.

As it was already mentioned, the resort became famous in a pretty unusual way. Men from all over the world come here for sex holidays, and one of the biggest city’s attractions is the red light district – Walking Street. Brothels, night clubs and other dark places can be found on every corner. This city never sleeps. On the other hand, it’s very rarely possible to find such a big number of amazing temples in a tourist resort.

Near Walking Street, at the top of the hill, there’s a magnificent statue of Big Buddha, to which you can get by richly decorated stairs. There’s also a row of gold-painted statues and a small temple Wat Phra Yai. Outside the city, in the surroundings of an amazing park, a complex of temples Wat Yangsangwararam mirrors in the lake Ban Amphoe. It’s so huge that you can spend hours walking through it (the entrance is free). Tourists visiting this place can see from there the top of Khao Chi Chan mountain, with a giant image of Buddha engraved in it – it’s 109 m high and 70 m wide. There’s a beautiful park stretching around it and right in front of the mountain also a lake covered with lilies and a rocky garden.

Those are just a few of the Pattaya’s temples, nonetheless it should be enough to comprehend how exotic this resort is. Peaceful places interlace with those full of debauchery. Noise, turmoil and crowd mix with quiet and contemplation. This city leaves an impression on everyone.

Prasat Satchatham - the fruit of three cultures

The Sanctuary of Truth is one of the many sacred buildings of Pattaya, but it definitely isn’t just another temple in the city. This place is unique, what can be seen at first glance. We’re standing in front of the building made solely of wood. Not a single nail or metal element was used to build the temple. For this reason, the Prasat Satchatham is still under maintenance.

However, even the presence of scaffoldings doesn’t change the fact that the temple delights. Some may even be bothered by the abundance and exuberance of the elevation. Its design resembles the spontaneity and organic character of Gaudi masterpieces, which now we can admire in Barcelona. It gives the impression of a living creation, frozen in wood – visitors are delighted by the richness of intricate carvings decorating the building inside and out. It's beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Three philosophical and art currents - Khmer, Indian and Chinese, are imprinted on the building. They are the most important to Thai culture. Each wing of the building was designed in a different style, and even though the whole is full of harmony and the interiors created with an unusual attention to detail

The power of wood and incense

There’s no doubt that every lover of niche perfume falls into ecstasy in the interiors of The Sanctuary of Truth. The temple is filled with the smell of resin and past (despite of its relatively young age – it was built in 1981). The air is full of intoxicating aroma of wood and incense. You may even feel like it’s leaving the temple with you, it will linger on your clothes and hair for a long time.

The temple is 105 meters high, and it was designed on the area of ​​approximately 3,000 m2. Both the building and its surroundings are amazing, it’s located right on the seashore, on the Rachvate Cape. Although it doesn’t contain any reinforcing elements, it’s resistant to rain and whippings of the sea winds.

Prasat Satchatham stands untouched at the edge of the beach, ignoring the nightlife of Pattaya with a real dignity. Cheap entertainments of the resort are not disturbing the peace with which the temple is looking at the city. Anyone, who crosses its doorstep and inhales the smell of wood, will calm the senses and feel the power of one of the most amazing Thai temples.

Translation: Karolina Strzałkowska

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