Monday 24 March 2014

Secret and Mystical Thai Buddhist Temple Deep in the Jungle near Hat Yai - Part 1

Are you looking for a most tranquil and isolated Buddhist temple - seemingly pure in intent and direction ?  Then you may well have found it in what remains one of the finest places I have visited in over 15 years of visiting all parts of the so called Land of Smiles and one that continues to dwell in my mind over two years since last visited.

These videos were shot on a holiday to Thailand in 2012 with my spouse. One of her nieces who resides in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand had been told by a nearby papaya salad seller of a most beautiful and almost secret temple located deep within the Thai jungle near the famous water fall of Ton Nga Chang (that is about 23km from Songkhla) and where the Abbott was to carry out a most distinctive water blessing on the papaya seller after which found her fortunes enhanced substantially.(Money is a driver for much of activity in Thailand as it is still a developing country with little in the way of a social welfare system and every baht has to be fought and won over).

The name of the water fall means 'Ivory Tusk Falls' and is the biggest of many beautiful waterfalls to be found in Songkhla province (it rains a lot in the south of Thailand!). Ton Nga Chang waterfall cascades in total down seven tiers in the national park and at the 3rd tier of the falls , the waters cascade down a rock formation which is said to be like a set of ivory tusks from where it takes its title.

This temple is approached by a dirt road with a turn off from the main road being marked with a granite sign and located just before the National Park entrance.

The Abbott has been focusing on creating a Buddhist temple (Wat in Thai) for pretty much over 4 decades of striving but the primary temple hall is still incomplete and houses a sizable golden brass Buddha statue. You will also find concrete posts which indicate the plans for other large structures nearby which as of now still remain unbuilt.

The temple sits near the river which carries the pure water that is cleaned and oxygenated  by the 7 tiered waterfalls. Also in the temple were a youthful monk and a few nuns in their traditional white garments. The lady who seemed to be the chief nun was smiling and happy and came originally from Bangkok and spoke English very well. There was a small Buddha shrine which she assiduously cleaned- and this was lit with a brilliant shaft of sunshine over and was very evocative and added to the calm , meditative peaceful atmosphere.

The area is extremely tranquil and pastoral - with chickens playing around and the air is cooled and shaded by large trees and the natural air conditioning of the jungle canopy. My spouse and nieces had chosen to go for the lotus flower water blessing ceremony that they had heard of from the papaya salad seller. Firstly the nun cut the lotus heads which they had especially bought for the occasion  into small pieces and added them to a large black dustbin filled wit water from the river.

Next the Abbott came to sit down in front of the three girls that had now been transformed into white clothes and were ready for the water blessing ceremony to start. He began chanting in Pali traditional Buddhist incantations and added some more of the flowers directly into the dustbin full of river water over which he stirred and chanted over - this action completed he started to pour it with a plastic ladle onto the three of the ladies  who repeated his words as the ceremony unfolded.

At the finish of the process,  which went on for around 3 minutes in total  they  changed their wet clothes and took some of the water remaining to pour down a Buddha statue in the adjacent Buddha shrine. The story will be completed in Part 2.

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