Wat Bang Kung is a temple in with a historic and bloody history.
I’ll admit, I had to a bit of research for this post – I didn’t even know the name of this temple. But I’ll share what I learned and what I saw at Wat Bang Kung in Thailand.
This trip to Thailand was for school, so, for better or for worse, I didn’t have to do any planning about where to go or what to do. Most of the time we were busy visiting research sites, but we did manage to see a few touristy places, Like the Amphawa floating market.
We stayed in Ratchaburi Province, which is about two hours from Bangkok. Wat Bang Kung temple is in Samut Songkhram Province, next door to Ratchaburi. We visited the temple one of the first couple afternoons.
First, about the temple
The main attraction at Wat Bang Kung is the temple enshrouded inside a tree. It has been completely grown over by a huge banyan tree. I have not been to Cambodia, but I think it’s the same trees that are in Angkor Wat. From the outside you can (kind of) hardly tell there is a temple inside.
Inside the temple/tree there is a sitting Buddha statue in the centre, covered in little squares of sparkling gold leaf. People buy the squares of gold leaf, come into the temple, pray, then lick and stick the gold leaf onto the Buddha. I think they should also walk around the statue in one direction.
Next, some things I learned just now
Apparently, Wat Bang Kung also served as a fort and battle ground between Siamese fighters and Burmese invaders in the 18th century. As such, it serves as a battle memorial for war heroes in addition to being a place of worship.
Since the battle was mainly hand-to-hand combat, this would explain why there are many life-size statues of Muay Thai fighters. Nobody explained this to me at the time, but now it makes more sense. Buddhist temples and kick-boxing are two things you wouldn’t commonly associate with each other. It did seem a bit strange to see Muay Thai fighters on temple grounds.
There were also hundreds of rooster figurines
I don’t know what the meaning behind this is, but around the temple grounds there were hundreds of small rooster figurines. I think they were for sale, though I’m not sure anymore. They came in different sizes. I couldn’t figure out their meaning while I was there, and I can’t find much about it online. One possibility is that the reason for the Burmese invasion mentioned above was triggered by of a lost cock fight.
This is also the place where I found the statue that I call the golden Buddha inception.
This temple was very pretty and interesting. I think it is worth a visit if you are near Bangkok or Ratchaburi. Have you ever been to Wat Bang Kung?
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