Chedi Thaimongkhon, also known as the stainless steel temple or the ‘jingle temple’ by locals, is an incredible structure. Newer temples and places of worship in this part of Thailand tend to be built in unique, non-traditional forms. The jingle temple was one of my favourites.
Made primarily of stainless steel tubing, the jingle temple reminds me of a christmas tree when lit up at night, in shades of calming green.
You can find well written guides instructing you on how to carry out your prayers, how many Joss sticks to place in each urn. I wasn’t there for very long when a female monk approached me, in English, to ask me about myself and tell me about the temple.
Chedi is unique, in that she is considered a ‘goddess temple’.
Here, prayers revolve around the zodiac. You can find your day, month and year of birth around the plaques and bells. In typical tradition, you are to locate your information, ding the bells, light some incense (Joss sticks), and make a prayer (or ‘make a wish’ as the friendly Monk told me).
I was surprised to see that on the May stone (May being my birthday month), there is an English phrase – the only English I saw carved anywhere in the temple.
It reads. And for some reason, at this moment, I feel it speaks directly to me. I contemplated the meaning behind this discovery for a bit, and felt like I had come across something very special.
The structure is without walls, but has a circular open concept base with round (and arced!) doors that also serve as windows. They are situated such that you can see straight through the temple from almost any angle.
The walls are all rounded, as are all of the parts of the temple. There is definitely a circle theme.
Every single item in the temple represents something spiritually. The rooms correspond to the zodiac, the Buddhas in each room sit in varying positions depending on what they are representing. Each jingler and every circle has special meaning. There is a place to pray (make a wish!) at every turn. It is fascinating, intricate and beautiful.
Not to mention, an interesting piece of architecture. And if you want, a Monk will gleefully give you a personal tour (in decent-ish English), no matter how busy he or she is.
You can walk through the entire temple, it is all open to the public and doesn’t appear to have set hours of operation. It is always open, and it is free.
Click the image above to watch a video of the sparkling, jingly interior of the ‘christmas tree’ (taken at an odd moment of jingle silence!).
You are not just allowed to walk through and touch and explore, you are welcomed and encouraged to do so. The Monks here are proud of their structure, and maintain it impeccably.
The interior is even more incredible than the exterior. The ornate detail of every section of the temple was unlike anything I had seen.
Sure, it wasn’t a fresco painted by a great master (yes, that’s ornate detail), but what they had created from ‘cheap, common supplies’, was really quite a breathtaking piece of art.
We watched the sunset from our temple peak, and really enjoyed the ceremonious ‘turning on’ of the temple lights. From time to time wind would whoosh through the temple increasing the jingle volume, creating a strange internal excitement.
My host says at the end of the clip;
“Buy FREE, no ticket!”
And yes, he is right. This would likely cost money to visit in North America. I know our buddhist temples are only ‘kinda’ open to the public. I have had friends attend, but there are strict rules and you can’t just walk in off of the street.
This temple is definitely a tourist attraction in addition to a place of worship. And the Monks are more than ok with that. I saw them seeking out foreigners, joyfully explaining (in varying degrees of broken English) the temple, and Buddhism to every farrang (foreigner of European descent) that would listen.
It was truly a joyous, peaceful place, and I felt recharged when we finally left, hours later.
Check out my Jingle temple videos;
Additional photos in the slideshow.