A statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in Miang district, Thailand.
The monument, called Mahamin Sakayamunee Wiseichairn (unofficially called Phra Buddha Maha Navamin), or simply ‘Big Buddha’, the Wat Muang Buddha, reaches 92 metres in height and 63 metres in width. Built in 2008, the huge statue towers over the surrounding sparsely populated farmland.
The exact origins of the temple are unknown, as the original Wat Muang was destroyed in the 17th century during the sacking of the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese. The reconstruction of Wat Muang was completed in 1982 after many years of work. In 1990 work began on the ‘Big Buddha’, which was completed 18 years later.
The giant concrete structure is covered in gold paint and casts a shadow not only on Wat Muang Monastery and Temple, but also on the surrounding ‘Garden of Hell’, which contains statues depicting various scenes from Buddhist hell. Other nearby sculptures commemorate the gods, kings of Thailand and the events of the Siamo-Burma War. In addition to the garden, visitors can enjoy views of Viharn Kaew (translated as ‘glass hall of initiation’), a chamber decorated from floor to ceiling with mirrored mosaic tiles housing a pure silver Buddha. Surrounding the Buddha is a park with beautiful lotus flowers. The lower floor of the Buddha is a museum with an exhibition of sacred objects and monks’ belongings.