Chaithararam Temple, aka Wat Chalong in Phuket, is a beauty that mass tourism has reached. I don’t know about you, but for me it is important that from visiting a Buddhist sight there remains a feeling of exclusivity, of being involved in something special, sublime. It's like in our Russian Federation you sometimes go to a church - well, a shop-store, all announcements and schedules with price tags. And in the other, you want to freeze and dissolve in an atmosphere that lacks words to describe. Wat Chalong, despite its age, scale, splendor and amazing architecture, left the impression of a beautiful souvenir box. Look - yes, interesting. Taking pictures, taking a walk around the territory is also not bad, but you won't want to come back here again to hustle with tourists for a comfortable angle and shadow..
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Wat Chalong in Phuket (Wat Chalong), in my opinion, is more a tourist attraction than a Buddhist one. People are brought here in batches, which is not surprising - the temple is included in the packages of sightseeing tours of all operating Phuket travel agencies. So that the visit does not turn into an ordinary pandemonium and to unload tourists with money, they are told the procedure for visiting the temple, with all these candles and incense sticks. Buy it there, set it on fire, stick it here, give it to that one, and if you bought a bag of live fish or fish food at the entrance, go to the pond to have fun. But people like it and you can understand them - exoticism.
Wat Chalong is built according to the canons of Buddhist temple building: there are several buildings on a large territory, each of which has its own name and purpose, which you will forget five minutes after you are told about them. Unless, except for the crematorium and the main building, where, by the way, there is no access to mere mortals, and monks are not always allowed. What immediately catches the eye is that the territory of the Chalong temple in Phuket is much more than what I'm used to seeing usually. Large spaces, spacious parking lots, good road surface, no puddles, mud or even gravel.
In the courtyard of Wat Chalong, there is a brick oven of a rounded elongated shape - a traditional building in any Chinese temple, on which terrible muzzles are usually still painted. I used to think that they are needed for burning temple debris, such as the remains of sticks and other tinsel, but it turns out they are designed to scare away evil spirits. By the way, the Chinese tradition is to blow up firecrackers so that the spirits scatter.
In Chalong, especially for tourists (it seems to me so, because in many other temples these stoves were usually silent), firecrackers burn firecrackers in the stove all day at a certain interval.
There are several ponds near the temple. If you go for a walk, then you will definitely stumble upon a big one. On the other side, there are nice Thai cottages. But if you go from this pond to the next one, it is smaller and behind a fence, then there will be a jogging and bicycle paths around the pond. Since there is no shadow, there is nothing to do there during the day, but in the morning and in the evenings you can go in for sports.
There will also be a nice cafe on the road between the temple and the bike paths, where you can eat if you get hungry. The name is in Thai, so I won't tell you. The walls are brick-colored outside, greenery around. Works from 8 to 21.
Reliable information about the creators and the exact date of the founding of the Wat Chalong temple has not yet been found. Serious historians remain silent, and the bulk of open sources on the Internet voiced the year 1837, when references to the temple come across in documents and on maps, but the fact is that it already existed by that time. In 1846, Wat Chalong was reconstructed and received the status of a royal and a second name - Wat Chayatararam. On Google maps, this temple is now also signed by two toponyms: Chaithararam Temple and Wat Chalong. Further in the history of the temple, the date is found - 1876.
As I understand it, at the dawn of its heyday, and far from one hundred years, Phuket lived off tin mining. The Thais did not have enough hands of their own, so they were loyal to the constantly arriving migrants from China, who over time practically ousted the indigenous people (the Far East, you are more careful with these guys there). Well, in 1876, the Chinese revolted, demanding better working conditions and higher wages, and it got to the point that the locals had to flee behind the fence of Wat Chalong while evil hard workers burned their huts and robbed their yards. The abbot of Luang Pho Chem temple acted as a peacemaker. With the help of the male population, he helped restore peace and order in Phuket, where by word, and where by force..
In 1999, from the government of Sri Lanka (the main supplier of the holy relics of the Buddha, judging by the histories of Thai temples), Wat Chalong received a Buddhist shrine - the Buddha bone. What kind of bone and what kind of Buddha - I have not figured out, but for a person who has no other relation to Buddhism, except curiosity, this is not obligatory knowledge. The bones of the Buddha, as you know, cannot just lie like that, so already in 2001 it was solemnly walled up in the newly built stupa Pra Mahathat.
Information to visit
Wat Chalong is open from dawn to dusk. When visiting the temple, be sure to observe the dress code «closed shoulders and knees», and when entering the premises, you can take off your shoes - you can only walk barefoot, although no one will scold for socks.
In front of the gates of the temple there are a lot of shops selling souvenirs and offerings to monks - all this can be bought in the chain mini-markets of Phuket Town, there it will be much cheaper, albeit with a less wide choice.
Phuket sightseeing tour>
This temple is often visited as part of a sightseeing tour of the island. Quite convenient, you can go around many places at once in one day.
If you decide to release small fish in the pond, people recommend doing this in the thickets of reeds, away from the main stairs, where the fish are crazy from the food constantly falling on their heads and can easily devour fry.
There is no need to take pictures with your back to the Buddha or against the background of the crematorium - this is disrespectful and generally unfortunately.
On the map
From the beaches of Karon and Kata to Wat Chalong, a bus leaves every 30 minutes, the ticket costs about 40 baht per person, and the most comfortable hours for visiting the temple are in the morning and before lunch.
Chalong Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries on the island. The tallest building of the monastery - Chedi Phra Mahathat, keeps a particle of Buddha's ashes. However, it is more of a tourist attraction..
More about the temple.
Chalong Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries on the island. The tallest building of the monastery - Chedi Phra Mahathat, keeps a particle of Buddha's ashes. However, it is more of a tourist attraction. Read more about the temple.