Gothic but Buddhist

Gothic but Buddhist

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The main Buddha image at Wat Niwet Thammaprawat sits in the hall showing Gothic Revival architecture.

When King Chulalongkorn commissioned Wat Niwet Thammaprawat in Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in district in 1876, the monarch wanted his subjects to have a “special” temple to pray in and marvel at.

The fact the King wanted the temple to be designed following Gothic-Revival aesthetics was never seen as an inclination to embrace another faith.

Designed by Italian architect Joachim Grassi, the temple — sitting proud on an island on the Chao Phraya River opposite the Bang Pa-in Royal Palace — stands out with its stained glass windows and spires. The temple, which took two years to complete, can only be accessed through a cable car from the palace.

Though from the outside the temple looks like a church, a Buddha image sits on the Gothic altar.

Wat Niwet Thammaprawat has been bestowed the special status of aram luang or a royal temple where the annual royal kathin (or robe-giving) ceremony is held.

The outward appearance of Wat Niwet Thammaprawat resembles that of a Christian church.

Multi-coloured stained glass windows lend the temple its prominent, visible feature.

Western influence is evident in a small pavilion in the main hall.

An old tablet inscribed with information about the temple’s construction.

Buddhist monks pray before the principal Buddha image in the temple hall.

A cable car shuttles visitor back and forth between the temple and the Bang Pa-in Royal Palace.

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