Wat Ban Rai, The Elephant Temple

At the request of a monk from the local temple, we made the trip from Nakhon Nayok to Nakhon Ratchasima Province to visit the famous Elephant Temple. It was a 4 hour trek from our rural home so with several stops at interesting roadside attractions, and an unexpected delay, it was a day trip, and we did not arrive back home until late in the evening.  The countryside was rural with farmers busy harvesting sweet potatoes, so the roads were filled with trucks loaded to the brim with the harvest. Our unexpected delay occurred when the van we had rented stopped at a highway checkpoint. The police escorted the driver to the side of the road where there was much discussion. After 30 minutes or so, my wife joined the police on the side of the road to try and find out what the problem was. The officers would not tell her what the delay was about, which led to many guesses on our part as to what the issue may have been.  After 2 hours of delay the driver was allowed back into the van and we proceeded. We found out later that the police smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath, and gave him a breath test where he blew positive. So the police would not let him drive the van again until his blood alcohol content was low enough to meet Thai standards.

Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple, in Dan Khun Tod district of Nakhon Ratchasima, Korat, Thailand.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple, in Dan Khun Tod district of Nakhon Ratchasima, Korat, Thailand.

The Temple was first opened 1 November 2013. It is Asia’s largest ceramic mosaic shrine and was hand-made by the Thai people using more than 20 million pieces of mosaic.

Detail / Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Detail / Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.

The construction came about thanks to the determination of the monk Luang Poh Koon who said ‘I will do it for the people who give me food and water everyday” says Kriengkrai Jarutawee, vice president of the Wat Baan Rai committee. Wat Ban Rai is an important temple for Isan people. Many worshippers come here to pay their respect to Luang Phor Khoon Parisuttho, a well known monk in Thailand.

Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple, in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand, looking back to the Ordination Hall.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Detail / Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Detail / Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple

Building the temple was quite expensive. Along with public donations, politicians also donated money with Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted Thai . Prime Minister, donating 3 million Baht. A Bangkok teacher Torben Retboll has suggested it took over 100 million Baht to build the temple. He may be correct.

Detail / Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Wat Ban Rai
Detail / Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Detail / Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.
Detail / Thep Wittayakom Shrine Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple.

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A beautiful framed print of The Elephant Temple is available through Fine Art America.

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MAP

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