Bangkok Wat Suthat and The Giant Swing
A visit to Wat Suthat Thep Wararam, situated almost in the center of old Bangkok, gives you an opportunity to see both the Giant Swing and one of the first-class Royal temples. The surrounding area is also worth exploring as there are many shops selling religious items.
The building of the temple was commissioned by King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok, in 1807. Its location in the center of Rattanakosin Island. This was in keeping with the Buddhist belief that it is like Mount Phra Sumeru being the center of the universe. Phra Sri Sakayamunee, the principal Buddha image, was moved from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai to be placed in Phra Wihan Luang in Wat Suthat in 1808.
Wat Suthat is surrounded by an impressive wall 1.94 metres high and 0.85 metres thick. There are a total of 15 doorways leading into the temple compound. Within the temple grounds the most important building is the Phra Wihan Luang which is the Royal Temple. The mural paintings, covering all the interior walls are some of the finest to be seen anywhere. Each has stone inscriptions describing the pictures.
Surrounding the Royal Temple is Phra Wihan Khot terrace which is really impressive with 156 Buddha statues, mostly in the seated meditative attitude called Smathi.
The chapel, Phra Ubosot at Wat Suthat is possibly the most beautiful in Thailand and is also the largest measuring 72.25 metres in length and 22.60 metres in width.
There are four pavilions (sala) within the compound that are elevated to the height of the temples walls. These are used for various royal functions and for viewing the previous functions at the Giant Swing in front of the temple.
The annual ceremony was held up until the 1930s but was discontinued to the high fatality rate as young men tried to swing high enough to grab a sack of gold on a pole about 25 metres in the air.