When you are travelling it is not always a good idea to follow too closely your guidebooks. If you have the time, then explore the area and you might find some hidden gems. The other day I was happy to stumble across a Buddhist Park at Wat Chak Yai in Laem Singh District of Chanthaburi Province. You won’t find it in any guidebooks but it turned out to be the highlight of all the temples I had seen that day.
The Buddhist Park houses literally hundreds of sculptures depicting the life and stories of the Lord Buddha. A lot of time and effort has been put into making these lifelike statues. In the scene depicted in this first picture, you can see a total of 1,250 monks that came together for the final sermon of the Lord Buddha before he passed into Nirvana. This day is celebrated as Markha Bucha Day in the Buddhist calendar.
The temple was founded by Phra Ajarn Maha Bua in 1955 after some followers donated some land for him. Originally he had no intention to build temple buildings and only built a basic kuti for the monks to live in which was made from palm leaves. Ten years later, Phra Ajarn Thammaratt came to stay for one night during his journey across the country. But, he had a vision that told him that he should stay at this temple where in the future there will be many more Buddha images than monks. He did stay and later became the abbot.
The monks never requested anyone to build Buddha images here. The tradition was started by the district chief who had a bad dream that he would lose his limbs. In order to make merit he paid for a large Buddha in the blessing posture which represents Monday the day he was born. Other people later then paid for Buddha images to illustrate either different postures or episodes in the Buddha’s life. Now there are hundreds of such statues spread around the 20 acre park. If you are interested in Buddhism and you are in the area then make an effort to come and visit this fascinating Buddhist park. More information about Chanthaburi Province can be found at ThailandGuidebook.com.