When I drive down Ratchadamnoen Klang Road towards the Democracy Monument, I often noticed this strange structure in the grounds of Wat Ratchanatdaram. It is marked on some tourists maps as simply “The Metal Castle”. Finally, the other day I decided I should go and take a closer look. It is really a remarkable structure. As the name suggests, it is indeed made of metal. King Rama III ordered construction of Loha Prasat in the early 19th Century in honour of his granddaughter, HRH Princess Somanas Vadhanawadi.
Entrance to the castle is free and you can climb up a spiral staircase to the roof. The building is 36 metres high and has 37 cast iron spires. Each spire represents the 37 Bodhipak khiyadhamma, the virtues leading to enlightenment. There are some fine views from the top of the surrounding landscape. You will notice that this area of Bangkok doesn’t have any skyscrapers so you can see quite far. Nearby I could see the Giant Swing at Wat Suthat and of course the Golden Mount at Wat Saket. This is another place that gives you panoramic views. It is also much higher.
The area in front of the temple has been developed by the Bangkok Administration. They have built a Thai style pavilion, gardens and also a statue in memory of King Rama III. Next door is the Mahakan Fortress which is one of only a few remaining forts in the city. If you are walking around this area then please be careful of the scam artists. I had one guy come up to me that said he was a teacher in the local temple. He spoke excellent English which is of course a giveaway. Most of the Thai English teachers I know cannot speak English! Anyway, he said that today was my good fortune because there was a free Thai boxing match at the nearby Lucky Buddha Temple. He even backed this up by pointing out the boxing match on a television being watched by two security guards. Of course, this televised match was actually at Lumphini Boxing Stadium and not a local temple. He asked me several times if I believed him or not. In the end I got bored with his lies and said that I didn’t believe him because I had seen his picture at BangkokScams.com. He quickly walked away.
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