Thailand’s Sanctuary of Truth, the “wooden castle” facing the sea

One of Thailand’s most amazing temples, the Sanctuary of Truth, is the subject of our daily blog. It lies on a beach at Cape Ratchavete, which is relatively close to Pattaya, and it is a popular tourist destination. The primary structure has a height of 105 metres and a width of 100 metres in each of the four cardinal directions. It has been given the moniker of “the majestic wooden castle on the horizon” by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). You may get an idea of how accurate this description is by looking at the temple from the perspective that is located just before you enter the enclosure. From this vantage point, the structure appears to rise up from the water and float above it.

Thailand's Sanctuary of Truth, the "wooden castle" facing the sea

It is difficult to accept the fact that the Sanctuary of Truth. The truth is that development on it began in 1981, despite the fact that it appears to have been built not too many centuries earlier. It is not the only thing that will catch you off guard during the visit. It is constructed entirely out of hardwoods, such as teak, and does not use any nails made of metal. The wooden components have been joined together using time-honored methods such as the use of wooden wedges and bolts, both of which are also made of wood. Massive carved sculptures illustrate the doctrines of a variety of religions and ideologies, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Persian philosophy, and Hindu mythology. We can find scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, tales that speak of good and evil, and other representations that confront wisdom with ignorance or that bring us closer to eastern beliefs about truth and eternal happiness. These stories can be found in both written and oral traditions.

Thailand's Sanctuary of Truth, the "wooden castle" facing the sea

It is completely hard to pay attention to all of the subtleties of a practically goldsmith’s skill since there is not an inch without some sort of carving, and there are no holes without some kind of figure. Construction has not yet been completed on the Sanctuary of Truth, and it is anticipated that the work will continue until 2025 at the earliest. However, this does not preclude the possibility of us going there. After a brief explanation by the sanctuary guides, which lasts about twenty minutes, they will allow us to walk around the entire enclosure for the time deemed necessary to photograph each detail or see live the work of the artisans who are there every day, armed with hammers and chisels of different shapes and sizes to create the most delicate shapes out of wood. The construction helmet is required to enter the temple.

Thailand's Sanctuary of Truth, the "wooden castle" facing the sea

The interior of the Sanctuary of Truth is broken up into a number of distinct rooms that each depict a particular stage in the development of either the universe, the earth, the four elements, or the gods themselves. The Western Room represents both heaven and earth, and within it are sculptures that represent the creation of the world from the four elements: Shiva, who represents the earth and fire; Vishnu, who represents water; and Brahma, who represents wind. The North Room is devoted to the cultivation of social and spiritual development. It contains sculptures that illustrate the beliefs of Taoism and Confucianism to arrive at the conclusion that human beings are unique when they are born, but that by behaving in an appropriate manner, they can avoid falling into vices or greed.

The South Room, on the other hand, features artwork that depicts the sun, the moon, and the gods associated with each planet in the solar system. The fragments inform us of extremely ancient beliefs in which the stars and planets are tied to the qualities that people possess. For example, Mars is associated with intelligence, Mercury with kindness, Jupiter with wisdom, and Saturn with suffering are just a few examples. The Great Throne and Liberation may be found in the Central Room. The throne is meant to represent Nirvana as well as the centre of the universe and the truth. The carved doors, which can be found at the four cardinal points, stand for the entry to the universe as well as the core principles that the Buddha taught.

Thailand's Sanctuary of Truth, the "wooden castle" facing the sea

Sculptures that show celestial bodies such as Deva holding a flower, another that shows the stages of life in people, one that holds the book that represents the continuation of the immortal philosophy, and one more that holds a dove to symbolise peace can be found decorating the tops of the towers. The exterior is not far behind the interior in terms of its iconography, highlighting the enormous elephant heads, the four-faced Brahma on the roof, and the figures that decorate the tops of the towers.

The Sanctuary of Truth is replete with characteristics that are typical of megalomaniacal endeavours. A wealthy individual by the name of Khun Lek Viriyaphant contributed the funds necessary to construct the building. This individual is also responsible for supporting the Muang Boran museum and the Erawan museum. His objective was to share Thailand’s rich cultural history, traditions, beliefs, and handicrafts with the rest of the world. Since the patron passed away in the year 2000, it is too bad that he will never get to witness the full product of his support. To ensure that the artisans are able to continue carving the Sanctuary of Truth with precision, the visitors will be responsible for paying the entrance charge. In return, they will be able to observe the development of the works and contribute financially to the project.

Liam Lee

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