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mosaic

SOUL SESSIONS

WAT CA L M

Amid the bustle of Bangkok, a secret garden temple offers inner serenity

Beluga School: “Practical project-based lessons that promote creativity and encourage children to trust in their own abilities”

A

most unusual monastery in Bangkok has

swathe of surviving forest offers a tranquil setting away

managed to survive the encroachment of

from the commotion of daily Bangkok life. Practitioners in

shopping malls, and appears as an emerald-hued

residence, dressed in white, amble around performing their

oasis sandwiched between Central World Plaza, Gaysorn,

daily rituals. I met the Abbott, a formidable monk renowned

Centara and Siam Paragon – names associated with luxury

for reading minds. He told me of the temple’s origins; built

goods, great bargains and food courts, situated in the

by King Mongkut in 1853, it served as a royal retreat for King

animated area around Siam Square.

Chulalonkorn, his famous son. In those days, the temple was

Text by Maria Visconti

Over the years, while travelling on the Skytrain, the monastery would often catch my eye in a sudden flash as an

be approached by water on the Klong Saen Saeb, one of the

incongruent green oddity; a fleeting vision of what hinted

many canals that helped Bangkok earn its title ‘Venice of the

at a traditional Buddhist temple, a jewel dwarfed by the

East’ in the 19th century.

temples of modern consumerism. One day, hurrying along

I watched as a regular stream of casual visitors found a

the skywalk that links Siam Paragon and Central World, I

few minutes of peace here, offering alms and prayers before

focused on a patch of greenery below. And there it was: the

they set off on their day. I talked with a young woman who

elusive vision, just a flight of stairs away, a 200m x 200m

said she comes every morning to pray for a good start to her

complex surrounded by high walls. It was too much to resist

business day.

and I went down to the street. Spotting the entrance gate,

For those who have more time, the monastery offers

I stepped inside: the experience was like walking through a

meditation retreats and has a few wooden huts to

mirror and reappearing in a different world.

accommodate overnight practitioners. Wat Pathum has now

Within the walls of Wat Pathum Wanaram, a considerable

26

situated among rice fields and lotus ponds, and could only

become a regular essential Bangkok stop for me to pause,

FT New MOSAIC_Soul  

Amid the bustle of Bangkok, a secret garden temple offers inner serenity 26 Beluga School: “Practical project-based lessons that promote cre...