The Tallest Buddhist Stupa
The Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand is the tallest Buddhist stupa in the world. At 127 metres (417 ft), it’s taller than any stupa, dagobah, chedi, candi, chorten, pagoda or monastic complex anywhere. So how does it measure up to other religious buildings?
Not too bad for a chedi built in the 19th century, but it’s significantly shorter than the minaret at the Hassan II Mosque (210 m /689 ft) in Casablanca, Morocco, which claims the title of the world’s tallest religious monument. It’s also quite a bit shorter than the Ulm Minster (161.5 m /530 ft), which will hold the record for the world’s tallest church until La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is completed. To be fair, the Phra Pathom Chedi predates both buildings.
No, Buddhists worry less about the height of their buildings and more about the height of their Buddhas. The tallest Buddhist monument in the world is now the recently constructed Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan, China. The Chinese constructed it exactly one meter taller than the Phra Pathom Chedi to claim the record. In fact, the three tallest statues in the world are Buddhas, including the Laykyun Setkyar, which we visited in Monywa, Myanmar.
So what would Buddha think about all this? Somehow, I strongly suspect he wouldn’t care at all. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some super-pagoda suddenly sprouted up in China just to make the record books.
For architecture junkies (including myself), the Phra Pathom Chedi makes a great day-trip by rickety train from Bangkok, although it might be less thrilling for the casual traveler who’s feeling templed out. The chedi itself is a relatively simple yet peaceful place to sit and stare up into the sky. We also really enjoyed strolling through the city’s markets and sampling some great street food including fantastic sticky rice in bamboo as well as the Thai take on beef jerky. For those looking for an authentic Thai experience, Nakhon Pathom is the perfect example of an average off-the-beaten-track Thai town.