Phra Pathom Chedi ( พระปฐมเจดีย์), Nakhom Pathom is one of the biggest in South East Asia and it is at this spot where Buddhist was first taught in Thailand.
Even though I saw a brief description of this temple in Lonely Planet, surprisingly, I do not see many overseas tourists coming to this temple.
Introduction as obtained from a signboard
Phra Pathom Chedi is the oldest Buddhist Chedi in Thailand. It is located in the Region where Buddhism was first introduced into Thailand by Sona Thera and Uttra Thera in the 3rd Buddhist Century.The Indian statue style Phra Pathom Chedi which was in ruins for a long time until King Mongkut IV, who went to Phra Pathom Chedi when he was a monk. During that time, the Chedi was 84 metres high. When King Mongkut ascended the throne, he restored the Chedi by building a new one on top of the Chedi. Subsequent structures were added by King Rama VI and King Rama VII.
The Chedi now stands in 120metres high and contained the relic of the Lord Buddha. During the 12th lunar month (November), there is an annual fair in the monastery and Buddhists come to pay homage to this holy chedi.
The picture on the left shows the the layers of Chedi being built on top of the original structure (in white). You can purchase a book on the history of the Chedi, writen in English for 20baht from the temple (the place with the Sleeping Buddha).
Real Story shared:
Long time ago, the place is mainly surrounded by forest and it is not as developed as it is today. Years ago, there was a couple who made love at the surrounding forest area located near the Chedi. A very strange thing happened- the couple could not be separated. It became very painful and the couple screamed for helped, alerting the attention of passer-bys. A few people tried to separate the couple but tried as they might, they could not get the couple separated. Subsequently, the couple were sent to the hospital, where the doctors also failed to separate the couple who are in pain. Unfortunately, the couple eventually died in the hospital and after death, only then their bodies could separate. There were a number of people who witnessed this and relatives of the couple conveyed the story.
Later, there was another couple who act indecently near the Chedi and ended up with the same fate. It was predicted that in future, another couple would suffer the same fate.
Therefore, the Chedi contained a sign, writen in Thai, to warn people to behave decently in the Chedi and its surrounding areas.
Paying respect at the Chedi (for Buddhists)
As you climbed up the steps at the Chedi (past the main gate), you will see a large Buddha statue.
There is a store on your right whereby you can obtain candles, jossticks, gold paper and a lotus flower. You can take the items and put in a donation (any amount you wished) into the donation box.
Then, take the flower, candle, josstick, go up to the Chedi area without shoes and go around it 3 times, CLOCKWISE.
Not a good idea to go when the sun is still hot as the tiles beneath your bare feet can get very hot with the sun’s rays.
Calm your mind.
Traditionally, Buddhist will go around a Chedi or Bodhi tree 3 times clockwise- each round represent the Triple Gem: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. Some would chant Buddho on the first round, then Dhammo, followed by Sangho.
After that, go down back to the area near the stall- put the flowers, candles and jossticks as you see other people putting. As for the golden small papers, you are supposed to stick it to the Buddha statues there.
After that, you can proceed to the area on your left whereby after walking for a distance, you will arrive at the shrine hall where the Buddha’s relic is enshrined.
The store where you can purchase the book in English is located on the right (got to walk a little distance) at the hall where there is a Sleeping Buddha.
You can also buy coins and place it to small alms bowls as done by the child below:
There is signboard with the map being shown (click to enlarge):
Opposite the Chedi’s main gate entrance, you will see some shoplots. There is a bazaar located behind the shoplots on your right as you come out from the parking entrance (not visible as the bazaar is covered by shoplots at all 4 corners). To get into the bazaar, just walk into the lanes located between the shoplots. There are all type of items ranging from food, vegetables, clothes, crafts and daily items are sold there. Prices are very reasonable.
Phra Prathom Chedi,
Mueang Nakhon Pathom District,