Outside the main bòht (chapel) is a stone statue of the Chinese goddess of mercy, Kuan Im, and nearby are two cow figures, representing the year of Rama I’s birth. In the 2km-long cloister that defines the perimeter of the complex are 178 murals depicting the Ramakian (the Thai version of the Indian Ramayana epic) in its entirety, beginning at the north gate and moving clockwise around the compound.
The story begins with the hero, Rama (the greenfaced character), and his bride, Sita (the beautiful topless maiden). The young couple are banished to the forest, along with Rama’s brother. In this pastoral setting, the evil king Ravana (the character with many arms and faces) disguises himself as a hermit in order to kidnap Sita.
Rama joins forces with Hanuman, the monkey king (logically depicted as the white monkey), to attack Ravana and rescue Sita. Although Rama has the pedigree, Hanuman is the unsung hero. He is loyal, fierce and clever. En route to the final fairytale ending, great battles and schemes of trickery ensue until Ravana is finally killed. After withstanding a loyalty test of fire, Sita and Rama are triumphantly reunited.
If the temple grounds seem overrun by tourists, the mural area is usually mercifully quiet and shady.
TNK Travel Team