When I saw a video about the Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol in Hat Yai Thailand I decided I had to see it. It is the first and one of only three stainless steel chedis/temples in the world. It was built by the locals in to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th year on the throne. The temple is adorned with bells. It sits atop a hill overlooking Hat Yai. The location makes it so special and a must see for me.
I booked tickets for us out of Bangkok. We flew Smile Airways (I love a country with an airlines called Smile!) to Hat Yai . The flight was only an hour and a half, nice and easy. We stayed at the Centara hotel which was fine. The staff was amazing and the location was easy to get to.
We took a taxi to the chedi. As we drove up the hill we were reminded of driving in Italy on the very narrow twisty road that leads up to the chedi. The road hides the chedi, and builds the anticipation of what you will see at the top. As you turn one last corner there is the chedi. For us the light was perfect as the late afternoon sun caused the temple to shine as it rose above the curves and the trees to meet the blue sky.
The citizens who built the chedi used circles as a theme for the architecture. I love this since circles are such an important symbol in the spiritual world. They can represent the totality of experience and life, absolute enlightenment, strength, the universe.
As you enter the chedi through the circle entrance you are welcomed by beautiful gold statues and a feeling of leaving the busy world outside. The sounds of the bells and the chimes follow you as you make your way to the main area of the chedi. There stands a pillar that runs the entire way from the floor to the top of the chedi. The center pillar has small vases which hold the fragments of monks bones who have passed on.
We made our way up the circular staircase to the top floor of the chedi. As you come out of the last circle on the stairway you see the trees around the many steel tubes that make up the top of the chedi. The light gleams off of the structure as you enter a different world. There are different areas with bowls and signs marked day, month, year. At these stands you can make a wish and put your money in the bowl of the day or the month you want it to come true.
(I apologize for the video here, I was thinking of the sound and not the quality of the video.)
I was in awe of all of the moving parts and the sounds of nature as we watched the sun cast its glow on this beautiful structure. It is inspiring to think of the local volunteers who connected each steel tube to create a perfect circle on top of the next perfect circle. As you stand above the world on this mountaintop you can hear the large bells being rung by people below. The deep hollow sound below fill you with a sense of connection to the universe.
Back downstairs each circular gate is a day of the week and either the morning or the night. You are supposed to exit through the gate which marks your birthday and time. I don’t know what my day or time is. So, I picked one and out we walked to the area around filled with gongs, bells, and altars to pray.
I really loved seeing this chedi. I wasn’t crazy about Hat Yai. For a quick day trip it was worth it to see something so different. It was moving to see the love for a King who was kind, peaceful and loving.