The "hell being community" at Wat Phai Rong Wua
Suphanburi, Thailand




At this site, you will be able to view photographs, taken in February 2009, of the "hell being community" at Wat Phai Rong Wua. The "hell being community," as it is sometimes called in the few Western references which mention it, is part of an extensive temple compound located in Suphanburi province, Song Phi Nong amphoe (district), Bang Ta Then tambon (subdistrict). Wat Phai Rong Wua, which roughly translates to "temple of the bamboo barn" in Thai, is home to various other attractions, such as the largest metal Buddha statue in the world (built in 1926 and standing nearly 200 feet high), the Palace of a Hundred Spires, several chedis (including one in the Indian style), etc. In one area there are several acres of what must be a couple hundred Buddha statues, most quite large and substantial in their own right. And currently under construction is what I understand will be the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand, if not in the world. Clearly Wat Phai Rong Wua is quite the place to visit if you're curious about Buddhism in Thailand.

Wat Phai Rong Wua is well known among Thais, but is virtually unknown to people living outside of Thailand. It is probably not a common stop for Western group tours, and its somewhat remote location makes visits by westerners unlikely. To get to Wat Phai Rong Wua, take highway 340 north of Bangkok about an hour or so. When you get to the small town of Lat Bua Luang, take a left on road #3422 going west. You'll see signs (in both Thai and English) for Wat Phai Rong Wua. It's roughly 15 km after the junction from highway 340. Don't worry that you'll miss it, because you'll see this giant Buddha statue well before you get there:

The above photograph of what is known as "Phra Phutthakhodom" was actually taken on my first visit to Wat Phai Rong Wua, in November of 2006. The pictures I took of this statue in February 2009 did not come out as well as this one, nor did they indicate the scale of the structure as well. The little tree seen growing near the top of the statue's head in this photograph, was not there on my recent visit. Information at the Wat states that the statue is the largest metal Buddha (some sources I've seen state that it is made of bronze) in the world, and that it is 58 meters high (about 190 feet). Other sources which I've seen on the net state that it is 26 meters high, or about 85 feet. I'm not a very good judge of height, so I don't know which figure is correct, if either. But I do know one thing, it's huge, it's massive, it's towering, and you can see it from several miles away on a clear day. 

Click on the following descriptions to see images of the "hell being community" at Wat Phai Rong Wua:

1) The Entrance to the "hell being community" at Wat Phai Rong Wua.

2) Once you've entered the "hell being community," you're confronted with an unforgettable spectacle: hundreds of life-size or larger plaster statues of naked human beings being tormented in just about every way imaginable.

3) Tormenters are also depicted. This is your friendly neighborhood devil, ready to impale you with his pitchfork.

4) Of course, tormenters can be animals, like the vulture shown here.

5) Here's another vulture, ready to prey on a woman who's been suspended in her

6) This poor soul appears to have had his eyes gouged out. He probably looked at a woman with lust and is now paying for it.

7) Of course, there can't be all this torment going on in hell without a few golden monks overseeing the operation, and making sure everything goes by the book.

8) An assortment of wounded, bloody souls awaiting the next installment in their suffering.

9) Here's a great big hot pot used for stir-frying those who are guilty of heinous actions, like playing cards, smoking a cigarette, enjoying a beer, and other evil deeds.

10) Apparently once they're stir-fried for their crimes against whatever, the cursed are thrown out to the vultures, which will probably pick their bones clean in no time.

11) This demon keeps order with a chain around the necks of the condemned, as they await the next installment of their torment.

12) This guy not only has his eyes popped out, but also endures the torment of having his hands augmented by about 2000%. Not sure what he did to deserve this, but it must have been pretty bad, like touching himself.

13) This damned soul is getting special treatment from one of the neighborhood's hired hands. It looks like he was partially turned into a donkey or something prior to this stage of his punishment.

14) These large winged carnivores must be especially fearsome as they devour the flesh of the condemned in probably just a few nibbles. Notice the golden monk to the left standing watch, making sure justice is carried out. To the right you can see the base of the 'stalk of thorns'.

15) Another inmate being devoured, this time by what appears to be a large dog-like creature. This person must have done something really awful, like leaving a door unlocked or something.

16) Here's a 'stalk of thorns' which is used, so I am told, to punish adulterers. Those big thorns must not feel very good on one's more tender parts.

17) Here we see another golden monk, this time surrounded by what appear to be condemned inmates in various stages of transformation - notice the antlers on one, the snake head on another, and other bodily deformations.

18) Well that's nice: decapitation using a two-man (or two-demon?) cross-cut saw. What did this guy (or gal?) do? Lie about a dirty dish? And right under the 'stalk of thorns' too!

19) One man, already bloodied from previous wounds, is making a last gasp at trying to defend himself from a neighborhood demon, while a woman has a spear thrust into her forehead. Great fun for the whole family!

20) More victims are being prepped for the giant hot pot. "That'll teach ya!"

21) "Into the hot pot you go!"

22) "Mmmhh! A woman's head! Delicious! So crunchy too!"

23) These four look like they're taking a break. Is that allowed here? Better tell the monks!

24) And these folks are waiting for their next round of torments.

25) I wonder what goes through a demon's head as he impales one of the condemned in the ass. "Look, ma! A live one!"

26) "Here's what you get for turning into an elephant, you damned reprobate!"

27) The fate of C3PO. Who'd have guessed? He must have dripped motor oil on the Emperor.

28) The tallest statues at the "hell being community" of Wat Phai Rong Wua are two figures, one male and the other female, which are apparently a testament to the vice of pride. Here the male proudly displays his virile nakedness with the words "I'm happy to do wrong" (or something to that effect) tattooed across his abdomen.

29) And here's the female (in case you couldn't guess). Not sure what the red splotches are. Perhaps outbreaks from herpes? "That'll teach ya!"

30) Apparently these folks, wounded and bloody, are just standing around, waiting for their next delivery of pain and anguish.

31) These plaster skulls are apparently meant to indicate what one's final fate is, after all the tormenting, suffering, misery. After all the fun and games, only to have your head thrown into a pile like this! How anticlimactic.

32) There's also a display case full of real human skulls. You don't see that at every theme park!

33) It all looks so innocuous from the shade.

34) The systematic mayhem of the outdoor slaughterhouse, in all its glory. Siddhārtha would be proud!

35) "You have the right to remain silent... as I impale your chest with this spear..."

36) This guy must have been a short-order cook in a Thai restaurant who botched a local recipe. He's being mortar-and-pestled to death.

37) "Got a headache? I'll fix that!"

38) This friendly neighborhood demon has a giant hammer raised above his head that he's using to impale this woman through her chest. "That'll teach ya!"

39) Another friendly neighborhood demon demonstrating his exquisite carving skills.

40) "You used this arm to masturbate, and that's evil. So off it goes!" said the friendly neighborhood demon to his assigned victim.

41) Who says hell is a malevolent place? There are friendly neighborhood demons everywhere!

42) A close-up of the 'stalk of thorns', punishment for those who "commit adultery"

43) The 'stalk of thorns' from below.

I told you there were a lot of statues here!


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