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Wat Ban Rai – The Elephant Temple in Nakhon Ratchasima

Wat Ban Rai, otherwise known as the elephant temple, is a masterpiece of artwork found in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

2 min read

I am certainly not a huge fan of visiting temples. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all right? But I was pretty blown away when I went to check out Wat Ban Rai (วัดบ้านไร่) in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา).

The first thing you will notice as you approach the temple is the massive elephant’s head sticking out of the side of a colorful turtle-shaped building. For this reason, you may hear other tourists refer to this as the elephant temple. It is positioned in the middle of a big lake with a bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Although the initial view of the temple is enough to attract you in, it isn’t just the aesthetically pleasing exterior that makes Wat Ban Rai a must-see attraction. I was happy to spend all afternoon exploring what it has to offer. This is certainly one of the best temples in Thailand that I have been to.

How was it created?

The idea behind the creation of this mosaic masterpiece comes from the highly respected monk, Luang Phor Koon Parisuttho (หลวงพ่อคูณ ปริสุทโธ). The temple was renovated to act as a place for Buddhist teachings.

With the help of over 400 volunteers and donations, this wonderfully creative work of art was created. Each person was allowed to attach one square meter of ceramic each day. There is now an array of fascinating artwork and interesting sculptures to be seen here, along with various different cabinets showing some insight into Buddhism.

Outside the temple

When you arrive at the temple, you will be greeted by two big naga serpents who appear to be guarding the bridge. On the other side of the water, you can see the entrance to the temple, below the mouth and trunk of the elephant. This is a great photo opportunity but it may be difficult to capture one without other tourists being involved.

Before entering the temple, have a walk around the outside, where you can marvel at the true beauty of this building. There are ceramic statues of Buddhist sacred animals and paintings on the wall that will surely amaze you. There doesn’t appear to be any part of the building that hasn’t be covered with intriguing artwork.

Inside the temple

Upon entering the temple, you are welcomed by the sight of huge paintings almost covering the height of the wall. Look up to the ceiling which is covered entirely by a beautiful sky-blue painting. This same theme carries on throughout the temple.

In front of you, there will also be a small statue. Thai people will pray here, leave an offering and then place a small gold sticker onto the statue.

There are four floors to explore here, including the rooftop. Downstairs in the basement, you will walk into a big empty space in the middle of the room with strings of big colorful balls hanging from the ceiling. Take a walk around the circumference of the room to learn about some of the sacred objects of Buddhism.

Walk up the ramp that takes you to the top floor, basking in the mosaic art along the walls. On the top floor, you will find more displays, where you can learn more about Buddhism, along with plenty of more photo opportunities.

On the rooftop, stand two golden statues looking out over the town below, one of Buddha and the other is of Luang Phor Khung. Many people will come here to pay their respects. There is also an amazing view of the lake and the town from here.

Remember to be respectful

As always, remember to be respectful when visiting a temple in Thailand. Wat Ban Rai is a great tourist attraction but many people come here to pay their respects to Buddha and Luang Phor Khung. Wear the correct attire, take off your shoes and don’t disturb people who are praying or paying respect. Check out our guide on etiquette and Thai culture to find out more.

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