The chedi looks almost unreal in the early morning, when it shimmers in the rising sunlight over the often misty lake.
It was built in 1982, and when viewed close up it's not quite as spectacular, although it does have hundreds of small metal Buddha images placed amid the corn-cob exterior. Much of the construction was done in concrete and the golden hue is actually from a gold paint, messy splotches of which can be found on the concrete walkway surrounding the chedi. It was built to mimic the Mahabodhi stupa of Bodhgaya, India, which marks the place of the Buddha's enlightenment. Several vendors selling Burmese and Mon souvenirs and drinks line the car park of the chedi.
Four hundred metres up the road takes you to Wat Wang Wiwekaram, also known as Wat Mon due to it being predominantly occupied by Mon monks. The temple was built around its former head monk, Luang Phaw Uttama, who passed away in 1983 and is still widely revered throughout Thailand. He was never cremated and his remains sit closed off in a coffin on a large shrine in the main building. Here in this huge building with very high ceilings, one of the current senior monks blesses pilgrims with holy water each day, and he often gives them necklaces of wooden prayer beads. Don't be shy -- foreigners are welcome. A separate building houses a large marble Buddha image. Note the clay pots of water with ladles found along the footpaths around the temple; they're a distinct feature of Mon wats.
How to get there
The wat is around two kilometres from the centre of town if you go via the wooden bridge or five clicks if you go via the concrete one. By the wooden bridge, follow the road after the bridge until you reach a T-junction. Turn left then continue until the intersection where you turn right for the wat and left for the chedi. From the centre of town a motorbike taxi should cost about 30 baht one-way.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 26th June, 2013.