Home > Bangkok, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, General, Thailand, Thailand FAM > Wat Saket and the Golden Mount, Rattanakosin, Bangkok

Wat Saket and the Golden Mount, Rattanakosin, Bangkok

Wat Saket and the Golden Mount

Rattanakosin, Bangkok

Also see: FAM tour of Thailand

The glittering golden chedi (stupa) of the Golden Mount towers above the sky scrapper infested skyline of Bangkok a sight never to be missed for tourist visiting the Thailand capital.

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Golden Chedi (Stupa) of Golden Mound, Wat Saket, Bangkok

The temple of Wat Saket is located on a 80 meter high artificial mound and is crowned with 5.8 meter tall golden chedi. The temple dates back to the period of Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351 – 1767) Wat Sakae.

Saen Saep Express Boat 7

Golden Mount from Panfa Leelard Pier, Saen Saep Canal Boat

When Bangkok became the capital under King Rama I (1782 – 1809) he renovated the temple and gave it its present name.

The temple stands near the confluence of Outer City Moat and Saen Saep Canal. It is best approached by the Saen Saep Canal Express Boat

The nearest ferry station is the Panfa Leelard Pier, which happens to be the terminal of the Golden Mount Line.

From the main station climb up the stairs and cross the bridge across the Saen Saep Canal and proceed towards the entrance of the Wat Saket and Golden Mount.

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A shrine at the base of Golden Mount

Dating back to the Ayutthaya period (1351 – 1767) the Wat Saket temple had an interesting and checkered history. 

King Rama I shifted the capital to Bangkok and renovated the temple. It became the city’s crematorium for the next century.

During the early part of the 19th century century Bangkok experience two severe epidemics of plague and cholera.

Thousand of people died and many of the people who died didn’t have money for cremation and there bodies were simply dumped in the area Wat Saket region. In those days bodies were taken out of the city for cremation and the gate which allowed the exit of the dead bodies was next to Wat Saket so it turned out into a dumping ground of dead bodies.

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At Wat Saket and Golden Mount, Bangkok

Thousand of bodies arrived every day and the temple. However the temple was unable to cope up with the large number of bodies forcing them to leave many bodies in the open as they can not be cremated or buried in time.

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Stairs leading to the top of Golden Mount, Wat Saket, Bangkok

Vultures started coming to the temple to devour the dead bodies. This lead to the spread of further epidemics and cholera epidemics followed in 1849 and 1881 and Wat Saket continued as a dumping ground of dead bodies and attract more and more vultures.

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Stairs to the top of Golden Mount, Bangkok

For the first three quarters of the 19th century the vultures became a symbol of Wat Saket.

While vultures dominated the temple scene King Rama III (Reign 1824 – 51) have different plans.

He built an artificial hill at the spot and started the construction of a chedi (stupa) atop it.

The entire hill along with the chedi collapsed, during the construction process, as the soil was too soft to support it.

Later his son King Rama IV (Reign 1851 – 68) came up with a more ambitious plan. used a 1,000 teak logs to secure the mound and started construction on a more modest chedi that still exists today.

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Devotees ring bells enroute Golden Mount top

Later King Rama V (Reign 1868 – 1910) placed a Lord Buddha Relic under the chedi. The relic was presented to him by the British Government of India.

Today a spiral staircase of 318 steps leads from the ground to a terrace and shrine-room — the Buddha’s relics are housed in a gold-leaf-covered shrine at the centre of this area.

Today the Wat Saket and Golden Mount is a major tourist attraction of Bangok and also attracts a large number of Buddhist Pilgrims. There are no vultures around but a climb to the top does offer a bird (vulture) eye view of Bangkok.

The place is tourist friendly with cafes and souvenir shops. There are several shrines at the base of the mound. The 318 step climb is pretty comfortable with a gentle incline and shallow steps.

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A giant disk shaped bell and the battering ram, Wat Saket and Golden Mount, Bangkok

The walkways and stairways are lined with several interesting statues. Cafes and artifact shops provide options for short breaks for tourist heading to the top. But the greatest attraction is the panoramic view, which unfolds with every increasing step.

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A devotee prays inside the Wat Saket shrine, Golden Mount, Bangkok

There is also a memorial of the epidemic victims complete with statues of vultures and dead bodies. The upper part of the stairway is lined with bells and devotees ring them as they make their way towards the top. Just before the top there is a huge disk shaped bell and a battering ram is used to ring it.

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Statues of Lord Buddha along with other religious staues, Wat Saket, Golden Mount, Bangkok

Numerous religious statues are scattered throughout the temple, showing the Lord Buddha in various postures.The entire area is carefully landscaped with trees and flowers and add to the serene air, even if the site is buzzing with tourists.

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The golden chedi or stupa is located on the terrace of the Wat Saket. Buddhist devotees come here to pray and offerings of flower garlands, lotus buds, incense, and money are common.

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Panoramic view of Bangkok from Wat Saket, Golden Mount

But the greatest rewards of climbing the 318 steps is the grand panoramic view of Bangkok. On the west the view stretches from the Royal Palace to the Rama V Bridge spanning across the Chao Pharaya River. On the east is the sky scrapper infested skyline of Bangkok’s business district.

Necessary Info:

  • There is an entry fee of 50 Baht. Photography is allowed and is free
  • It is a functional Buddhist temple so there is a dress code. Men must wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts. Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.
  • In November Wat Saket hosts the festival of Loy Krathong

Note: I visited Thailand as part of a FAM trip organized by Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways.

Special Thanks:

  • Aso Lori (TAT, New Delhi) and Sajid Khan (Thai Airways, Kolkata)
  • My fellow FAM participants Amit Sachdev (Unique Air Travels), Sanjay Kr Kothari (Just Holidays), Vandana Arya (Gainwell Leisure Holidays), Piyush Banerjee (Discovery Holidays), Asif Alim (Neptune Holidaays) and Nandini Gangully (T2, The Telegraph)
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  1. October 19, 2018 at 7:01 PM

    This was a really interesting post, thanks for sharing your travel experience…

    • October 25, 2018 at 12:11 PM

      Thanks. Hope to get back to Bangkok again. There is lot more to explore.

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