The Sanctuary of Truth Pattaya also known as Prasat Sut Ja-Tum is an amazing wooden structure which is located by the ocean in the northern area of Pattaya. The building has been under construction now for more than 20 years, and it will probably be another 20 years before it is totally complete.
Just a pedantic note here. Many people refer to this structure as “A wooden temple” or “The wooden temple in Pattaya”. Even Wikipedia incorrectly refers to it as a temple. The guide that showed us through the building insisted that it was not a temple and expressed her desire for people not to call it a temple. In Thailand, for it to be a temple it must have a resident monk. This has also been confirmed by several of my Thai friends. No resident monk so please avoid referring to it as a temple. Ok rant over.
There are two separate aspects to The Sanctuary of Truth. First is the physical structure. Build almost entirely of wood, the detailed carvings are done by hand. The construction uses a variety of timber jointing methods including: dowels, dovetails, mortise and tenon, lap joint, finger joint plus tongue and groove. For anyone that enjoys woodworking, sculpture, carving or construction in general, this could keep you occupied for the entire day. The same applies for those that enjoy learning about meditation, Eastern philosophy or Buddhist and Hindu beliefs.
The wooden art is used to express Eastern philosophy and Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. A number of carvings represent scenes from the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and tell tales about the battle of good versus evil, wisdom versus ignorance.
The sanctuary of Truth promotes the belief that materialistic things are temporary, while truth, goodness and happiness are eternal.
The main building is more than 100 meters high. Each of the four corners has a tower with figures from Thai, Cambodian, Indian and Chinese beliefs or legends. In the workshop are there is a 1/10 scale model of the main building. In the design process everything is first sketched on paper, then a clay model is constructed before the timber piece is finally carved.
The workshop employs a number of craftsmen (actually mostly women) working on the ornate sculptures, all of them hand carved from wood. Visitors are welcome to enter the work area and watch the carvers at work.
The Sanctuary of Truth is the brainchild of Thai millionaire Khun Lek Viriyaphant, who wanted to preserve Thai culture and history. He also created the Erawan Museum and the Ancient city Muang Boran, where many of Thailand’s historical buildings can be found in a scaled down version, both located in Samut Prakan province close to Bangkok.
The Sanctuary of Truth employs many tour guides. They are able to explain about the concepts and ideas behind the building. Most languages can be catered for.
In addition to the main sanctuary, there are several cultural performances, elephant rides, horse and buggy rides, riverboat rides and relaxing restaurants with a good selection of food.
The Sanctuary of Truth makes for a memorable trip, with lots of photo opportunities.
Opening hours – 8 am until 5 pm.
Parking – Normally adequate