Wat Mangkon Kamalawat
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Dragon Lotus Temple
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is also known as Wat Leng Noei Yi or Dragon LotusTemple. It is considered to be the most important and largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It was first established as a Mahayana Buddhist temple around 1871. At first it was named after Sok Heng but was later changed by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) into its present name. This temple is said to be the host for various year round events like Chinese New Year and Chinese Vegetarian Festival.
The temple is decorated typically using a Chinese architectural style that makes use of Chinese dragons. The ordination hall houses the temples gold colored Buddha. The Buddha’s image is patterned after the Chinese. An altar can be found there as well where religious rites are performed. Three pavilions stand to the rear side of the temple which is said to be dedicated to the following: Guan Yim (Chinese goddess of compassion and mercy), another to the temple founder Phra Archan Chin Wang Samathiwat and to the Saint Lak Chao.
What to See
In the main entrance stands the four Buddhist Guardians of the World. All of these four guardians wear Chinese warrior costumes. Offering oil is believed to pave a path to a smooth journey into the afterlife. Offering the oil is also said to influence the present life. Vendors that sell steamed lotus shaped dumplings and oranges surround the temple. Most of the devotees buy these items to serve as merits when offered to Buddha.
In the courtyard visitors will find different shrines. A furnace for the ritual burning of paper money and other offerings to the devotee ancestors can be found in this courtyard as well. Devotees believe that if they offer merits, these will bring them good luck in all of their endeavors. The temple houses bathrooms that guests can use for free where a giant photo of Wisconsin in the winter can be found.
A large dragon figure sits on the roof playing with a large pearl. Burning of incense, constant Buddhist chanting and the sound of chiming bells only adds a mesmerizing allure for visitors especially those that are visiting a temple for the first time. According to locals the best time to visit the temple is during Chinese New Year celebrations when this temple is caught in the center of festivities.
Chinese Vegetarian Festival
The Vegetarian Festival starts from October 5 to 14. It is the time when Chinatown is buzzing with lots of activities. Temporary stalls are set up selling a wide range of Chinese dishes from sweet cakes to noodles. The best time to visit the place is in the early evening in order to grab a bite or two before going in the temple to join the revelers.
How to Get There
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is located in Pom Prap Sattru Phai District in Chinatown. It can be accessed through an alleyway on Charoen Krung Road. This district can be easily accessed by boat. Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat that can be found at Ratchawong Pier. From the pier, walk up Ratchawong Road into Charoen Krung. Take a right turn since this temple is located on the left side one block down.