|WAT SRA MONTHON (วัดสระมณทล)
|This small but active monastery is located north of Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin Park,
near the bridge leading toward Sena and Highway 3263. It is situated on a small,
unnamed, side alley and can be very difficult to find. The closest landmark other than the
bridge would be the old distillery.
Wat Sra Monthon makes its first appearance on the 1993 Fine Arts Department map.
Some of the land in the area was cleared away to develop Queen Sri Nakharin Park
and the road leading to the highway bridge. As a result, a number of temples in the
vicinity were destroyed. This modern temple may have been built on the site of one of
these older monasteries. A now defunct canal once passed north of this monastery,
which probably formed the southern boundary of the Rear Palace (Wang Lang). A
portion of this canal can still be seen.
Wat Sra Monthon consists of a single sermon hall, which is taken care of by only one
monk. There is no chedi, bell tower, crematorium, of monk’s quarters in situ. The sole
monk sleeps on a floor of the ubosot, and this is where he offers sermons to the lay
community. The building is a new construction that houses a surprising amount of (mostly
new) Buddha images. The ubosot has a tin roof and its walls are pink. An old sema
stone marks the entrance of the ubosot.
The neighborhood around this site tends to be very poor, but they do hold this monk in
high esteem, and for this reason, the small ubosot has its fair share of visitors. Even
though this website tends to avoid using analogies, in this case it may be useful to
describing the unique nature of this monastery. After I inquired about the temple’s
history, the monk admitted that he didn’t know how old it was or its history. He then
asked me why foreigners only want to learn about old ruins instead of active
monasteries. I told them I was interested in the old, the new, and the transition between
the two. I was then invited into his informal sermon and given something to drink.
Afterward, I tried to give him a donation of 100 Baht. He took my money, painted some
Buddhist symbols on it, and gave it back to me. He then asked, “Do you know why I
drew that?” I mentioned that maybe it was to bring me good luck or fortune. He laughed
and said. I have only created a symbol. A drawing can’t change your luck or bring you
money. The only way you can get money is to work very hard, and the only way to
improve your luck is to educate yourself so that you can make better choices”. In
gratitude for his lesson, I handed him a 500 Baht bill. The other people in the ubosot
gasped in surprise. The monk took my bill, painted on another Buddhist image, and
handed it back to me once again. He said, “Give this to your new girlfriend. I already
have all I need inside this ubosot”.
|Text & photographs by Ken May - September 2009
|(Wat Kradichon on a 19th century map)
On a mid-19th century map there is a monastery named Wat Kradichon (วัดกระดีชน)
indicated north of Wat Chang. This monastery seems to be more or less in the same
location as today's Wat Sra Monthon. Wat Kradichon was located in the immediate
vicinity of the Phra Racha Wang Lang Landing, south of the Rear Palace.
The temple was likely named after its initial sponsor. When a new structure was built in
situ the place must have received a new name.
The site is located in geographical coordinates: 14° 20' 55.42" N, 100° 32' 48.14" E.
|Addendum & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2013
Updated July 2015
|(View of the monastic structure of Wat Sra Monthon)
|(Bai Sema at Wat Sra Monthon)
|Courtesy Khun Supot Prommanot, Director of the 3th
Regional Office of Fine Arts)