Into the dragon’s mouth
Published/Last edited or updated: 11th February, 2017
A passage through the dragon’s mouth takes you to two impressive caves and a mountaintop chedi affording tremendous river views at Wat Ban Tham, and if you don’t mind the steep climb, this is the mountain-cave temple that we suggest above all others in Kanchanaburi.
The journey begins with a steep set of stairs between balustrades depicting naga serpents. Then comes an enormous dragon with swirling eyeballs daring you to keep climbing into its mouth and up through a human-made tunnel punctuated by murals. On our visit, sunlight pierced through the windows as monks applied a fresh coat of red paint to the stairs.
Just beyond the dragon tunnel, the first cave enshrines an ancient U-thong style Buddha image known as Luang Por Yai Chinnaraj. Seated in the Subduing Mara posture, it’s placed at the back of a large cavern that stays cool thanks to air flowing through the front entrance and out a second hole in the limestone. A monk sat ready to splash visitors with holy water.
From here the stairs become steeper and turn to steel as you climb through a massive crag. On the other side, a rocky trail fastened with concrete steps continues up to the second cave, Tham Man Wijit, hosting a shrine to the hermit Ruesi along with colourful ribbons and metre-long stalactites that grab the eerie glow of red, yellow and blue lights. We emerged into the cool outside breeze sweating heavily due to the hot, stagnant air inside.
Clusters of bamboo lean over the trail as you approach a pinnacle crowned with a four-faced statue of Brahma, among other statuary, and a gold-painted chedi at the end. This was a tiring climb and at this point it was time to take a breath while absorbing a fabulous Mae Khlong River vista set to the gentle chiming of prayer bells in ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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