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Bangkok Airport

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Bangkok Airport-A Conclave of Gods

This is not a temple, and that is why it should not be included here, but since it is closely related to Hindu gods, it is included here.

Bangkok's International Airport, which is claimed to be the world's biggest, is called Suvarnabhoomi - a pure Sanskrit word which means "Golden Land", which gives a first glimpse of how deep ancient Indian and Hindu influences run in Thailand. The road leading from the airport to the city is named after Raam IX, and there's another road named after Raam I. There is a huge sculpture of the great churning of the ocean, with Vishnu as its magnificent centerpiece on the airport..

Thailand is a country where Raam and Ganesh coexist happily with Buddha and Avalokiteshwar. A Chinese Buddhist female monk has built a fabulous Shiv Temple (though it leaves an Indian devotee rather bewildered), and Ganesh worship is spreading like a reinvented rage amongst the youth. Shops, homes and street corners have Ganapati images in tiny, beautiful wooden shrines, about the size of the little tree-houses we use to feed birds. Songkran (from the Sanskrit Sankranti) is the Thai new year, which also comes close to Baisaakhee (13th April). The present king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, Raam IX, is a living legend, the longest serving monarch on the planet today.

Solitude At Sangam
The ubiquitous presence of Raam in this deeply Buddhist land makes one go to Ayutthyaa, the tranquil ancient capital of Thailand. If Bangkok dazzles with its superb infrastructure and perfectly designed signage, and frazzles with its horrific traffic jams, Ayutthya soothes. The city, which derives its name from Raam's Ayodhya, is just 76 km from Bangkok. It is majestically situated on the confluence of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, Pasak, and Loburi. Its Buddhist splendor is enchanting, and the vast expanse of ruins of temples and palaces, dotted with banyan and Peepal trees, makes an awe-inspiring sight. Ayutthyaa was a flourishing capital for more than four centuries, till the Burmese destroyed it in 1765. It may remind one of Hampee as how and why did such a great city fall into decay?

Ayutthyaa today is calmness incarnate. Clean, serene, and welcoming to tourists. The absence of concrete and glass structures, the dominance of eight century-old relics, gives it a look of being in a perpetual state of silent yoga. Hindu in India must learn a few things from this Ayutthyaa, such as how to keep temples clean, preserve heritage with respect, and be courteous to devotees and visitors, without being arrogant, clamorous priests looking to extort their money.

People are transparently religious, and generous in their donations to monks, monasteries and temples. A poor woman who won a million dollars in a lottery, built a "wat" and a temple with her winnings, and donated the rest of her money for their upkeep, while she continued to live in penury. There is a small mosque, bearing the name of Pakistaan, apparently built with money from that country, and a church called "Blessings of Ayutthyaa". The king ensures equal protection to all faiths, though his Chief Priest's Temple is known as Devasthaan and has Shiv as the presiding deity in it. The Portuguese, Dutch, British and French visited Ayutthyaa between the 16th and 17th centuries, but there is no recorded mention of any Indian contact, although Indian influence is only too visible.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/30/13