Sunday, 30 September 2012

Thailand, Pattaya (Sanctuary of Truth)

I was truly fascinated with this place. The Sanctuary of Truth was an unforgettable destination for me although the photo below made it looked like it's a normal temple. When I was at the site, I thought the entire structure was some kind of a Hindu relic that must have traveled through the time machine into our world. 

Standing at 105 metres high, this sanctuary is equivalent to a 20 storey building! A building that housed all kinds of statues and sculptures. While the place itself was massive, it felt empty because there were only workers finishing the incomplete parts of the building. Not surprising actually as not many outsiders knew about this place. 

Apart from this, the building is made of 100% wood. This means that metals and nails are not used at all in its construction. Instead, the builders rely on wooden pegs to bring the structure together.

To create this sculpture, large blocks of wood were hand carved from scratch. The tour guide told us that the sculptures were meant to show visitors the relationship between human beings and the Universe. The Eastern philosophy was also introduced several times in her explanation. 

 Actually, I didn't really get what she means by Eastern philosophy or what exactly it represents. From my own understanding, the sculptures depict how culture and religion have merged. And when we talk about religion; Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism seem to have very little distinction from one another based on how they were presented. Thus, I conclude that the Thais in general accept this as a holistic approach to their lives.

The cosmological sculpture on the high ceiling also signifies how human beings should live in harmony with nature and the universe. The circle of life is an important symbol which lay the groundwork for an ideal world formed by 7 creators - namely the Heaven, Earth, Mother, Father, Moon, Sun and Stars.

Besides the gods depicted in the 3 religion, sculptures of Apsara dancers (female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology) also decorated the building. The mystical element here also points out that both fantasy and reality do coexist in the belief system of the Thais. 

In a nutshell, I still do not understand what Eastern philosophy is but I do hope that the building of this sanctuary will get completed soon as it has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

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