Loha Prasat: the metal castle inside Wat Ratchanatdaram

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
Aerial view of Loha Prasat surrounded by other temples at Wat Ratchanatdaram. By BerryJOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Bangkok is full of elegant temples that stand out with their majestic architectural beauty. Close to Wat Saket (the Golden Mountain) and the Democracy Monument stands one such marvel, Loha Prasat ( โลหะปราสาท). Wat Ratchanatdaram ( วัดราชนัดดาราม) is a temple complex, and Loha Prasat is one of the temples inside the compound.

Unlike many other temples in the city, this one has maintained a low profile in Bangkok Old Town in spite of its historical importance. Popularly known as the metal castle, Loha Prasat was also submitted for a World Heritage Site listing to UNESCO in 2005 and it’s one of the third class royal temples in Bangkok.

History

Wat Ratchanatdaram means ‘Temple of the Royal Niece’. It was built by King Nangklao ( นางเขลา), who reigned as Rama III, in 1846 for his princess granddaughter Somanass Waddhanawathy. Loha Prasat literally means iron castle or metal castle.

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
Statue of King Nangklao (Rama III) located near Wat Ratchanatdaram. Photo: Heinrich Damm (User:Hdamm, Hdamm at de.wikipedia.org) [CC BY]

Although the design might appear Burmese but is actually a Buddhist design inspired by India and Sri Lanka. Owing to its historical importance, the Thai royal family ordered the restoration of this temple. In an effort to keep the history alive, a lot of pictures were installed in one of the corridors in late 2007.

There were two other similar structures that previously existed in the world. The first one, constructed in India included 1,000 rooms and had a golden pinnacle on top. Another one constructed in Sri Lanka had nine floors and the roof was topped with copper. Neither of those exists today.

Architecture

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
The facade of Loha Prasat where could be observed the spires in each of the 3 levels. By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand, CC BY 2.0, Link

The temple has an unusual architecture with multiple concentric square layers resting on perfectly aligned columns. The main structure is composed of five towers. The central and outer towers have large black iron spires on them. The 37 golden spires signify the 37 virtues that are needed by one to become enlightened. The 118 ft multi-tiered structure has 3 levels. The top-level has 1 spire, the middle one has 12, and the bottom level has 24 spires.

The outer building is built like a wide pyramid wrapping the next smaller one in the front of it and so on. The ground level of the tower is supported by a large number of columns. The golden statue of Buddha is seated in the main temple building. Once you reach the roof-top using the spiral staircase, you get a superb view of Bangkok’s old town.

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
Main Buddha statue at Loha Prasat. Photo: Z3144228 [CC BY-SA]

Other attractions inside the complex

The entire Wat Ratchanatdaram complex has an interesting architecture. It has well maintained and expansive gardens. The star of the compound is indeed the metal castle. Loha Prasat is surrounded by large white temples and a Buddha seated on gold.

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
Two of the white temples in Wat Ratchanatdaram surrounding Loha Prasat. By PEAK99Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

There’s a popular amulet or good luck charm at the back of the metal castle. The Buddha statues market adjacent to that is well worth a visit. It displays a variety of Buddha artifacts and decoration items. The evening ambiance is decorated with prayers and chants. There is also an interesting wooden house village outside the temple compound across the street.

Getting there

Wat Ratchanatdaram is located at the confluence of Ratchadamnoen Klang ( ราชดำเนินกลาง) and Maha Chai Road ( ถนนมหาชัย) in Phra Nakhon ( พระนคร) district.

Bangkok 1000 temples. Loha Prasat
The Democracy monument. Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons

Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue is plausibly recognized as one of the most iconic places for a sight-seeing tourist tour. For the design of this Avenue, Prime Minister Field Marshall Plaek Phibunsongkhram took his inspiration from the Champs-Élysées in Paris. A lotus-shape, with four wings surrounding a tower that integrates six gates, the Democracy Monument (their Arc de Triomphe of Bangkok) was erected and finished in 1939.

The entrance is free into the complex, while donations are requested at the Loha Prasat first floor entrance that is built like a maze. The temple opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

If you are in Bangkok, don’t miss the unique combination of layers, colors, serenity, and history at Loha Prasat.