You could’ve seen so many architectural wonders, but gear up, this one’s about to drop your jaw. A beautiful city on Thailand’s Eastern Gulf coast, just 150 km from Bangkok, known for its beaches, is Pattaya. You might be wondering, “What architectural marvel might be there in this city known as the ‘City of Sin’ famous for its night life and sex industry?”. Pattaya blows our minds with the Sanctuary of Truth, otherwise known as the Temple of Truth.
The sanctuary is an unfinished job, and was designed by a Thai businessman, Lek Viriyaphan. Lek Viriyaphan was the founder of the ancient cSiam and Erawan elephant museum. And the masterpiece – the Temple of Truth. This sanctuary is fully made of wood, entirely out of wood. There is not one piece of metal in its construction, not even nails!
This magnificent structure is located at Laem Ratchawat on NaKlua Road, North Pattaya. It is one of the most attractive tourist spots and landmarks in Pattaya. The mullioned commissioned the building of this sanctuary way back in 1981, and it is still being assembled,till date, and is expected to be completed by 2025.
One of Thailand’s most picturesque sights, the Sanctuary of Truth, was built for a reason: to bring value to beliefs and principles of life. It was built to steer people towards the path of righteousness, away from evil. The sanctuary teaches life in a way that the modern world can’t afford. It is also a venture to protect traditional skills. The workers are locals, and the labor is significantly dominated by the number of female workers.
The work is a perfect, wide-ranging mix of Thai, Khmer, Indian and Chinese influences. The sanctuary holds dear the principles of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism.
The exterior of the Sanctuary of Truth
This wooden structure is a hybrid of a castle and a temple from the Ayutthaya period, mixing the features of other regions, time periods and religions. The sculptures of the museum are not just for decorative purposes. After all, the values it encompasses held that everything in life has a meaning, and that it is transitory.
The first sculpture that will catch your attention would be the huge four faced statue of Lord Brahma. The Hindu deity is there to symbolize that no matter who we are, we will have to follow the four universal virtues – benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity.
The next thing that you should look up to are the four beautiful sculptures of women, on the sanctuary’s four rooftops. They each carry an object that holds a meaning. The sculpture sitting on the northern rooftop carries a lotus, encouraging you to follow your religion and its teachings.
The southern rooftop sister is depicted with a child and an elder by her side, reminding us of the duty we have of looking after our family. The one on the eastern roof has a scripture, urging people to turn to prophets and philosophers for guidance in life. The western rooftop deity squeezes a rice stalk while carrying a pigeon on her arm; She symbolizes the need to maintain land for the wealth and prosperity of the country. On the center of the temple’s rooftop, one can see a spirit riding a horse. This is the uniting force of all these folds of life that are to be fulfilled to reach the ultimate goal of peace in the world.
The interior of the Sanctuary of Truth
Like the roof, the interior is divided into four halls with a central section in between, all depicting different myths and deities. Each hall holds a unique significance, adding to the meaning of life. The Origin or the Western Hall is the house that symbolizes the creation of Earth. The decorations depict the creation and the natural forces of Water, Wind, Earth and Fire.
Here, you can see the depiction of the three foremost gods of Hinduism – Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva. Vishnu is seen sleeping on the Sheshaga, in the middle of the ocean depicting water, while Brahma is seen flying on a swan, and represents the air. Lord Shiva represents fire and earth as he resides in the mountains.
The Southern Hall is dedicated to the three creators of life – the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. The sun is said to control day and night, while the moon controls tides. The stars control destiny.
The Northern Hall depicts the teachings of Taoism and Confucianism. It also gives one the learning that no matter what their birth is, their good deeds will liberate them from the vices and evils of the world and they will attain Moksha and Nirvana.
The Southern Hall is all about parental love. It tells us about the two creators – our parents. Depicting unconditional love, the hall symbolizes the protection that a family should embody. Love starts from home, it seems to say.
The Central Hall houses a magnificent wooden throne. There are no deities at the gates around it, symbolizing liberation, timeless truth, and harmony. This eventually leads us to Buddha’s teachings.
When and how to visit the Sanctuary of Truth
If you want to have guaranteed good weather and combine the temple visit with a trip to the beach, you must choose the dry months of December to March. If you are ready to tackle the crowd and enjoy the festivities, April is the month for you. As for the best time of the day, it is recommended to go early in the morning. The first people are let inside at 8:00 am, and can enjoy a virtual grandeur in the relative silence. If you’re a sunset lover, though, join the last batch which starts at about 5 in the evening.
Entry fees and dress code
A regular adult ticket costs 500 THB, while the children’s ticket is priced at 250 THB. Toddlers go in for free. We recommend getting an online ticket that is always discounted (400 THB). Since this Sanctuary is also seen as a temple by the locals, modest dress code is expected. No tank tops and shorts are allowed for men. For women, it is advised to keep their knees, shoulders, and mid-drift areas always covered.
This Sanctuary of Truth is truly a spot for young to old. You can visit this place with family, friends, partners or solo. The temple made entirely of wood, without any nails embodies a massive amount of integrity. This is also the perfect place for a spiritual itinerary.
You’ll also love the wonderful Temple of All Religions.