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A Thai temple surrounded by birches

June 27, 2011

In memory of Thai King Chulalongkorn’s visit to Sweden in 1897, a temple was erected in Bispgården in the province of Jämtland in 1997. Chulalongkorn visited this remote corner of Europe to study the logging industry, a major source of income for both Sweden and Siam at the time.

 Here at 63 degrees latitude it is difficult to create a Thai garden (Dokmai Garden is situated within the tropics at the 18th latitude). However, the white temple is surrounded by white birches which is quite surreal, and in front there is a pond with horsetails (Equisetum), water lilies (Nymphaea sp.) and Potamogeton. The lawn is deep green and some weeping willows (Salix fragilis) decorate the area too. A lovely feature is a tall wildflower section now dominated by Ranunculus acris and Geranium sylvaticum. A nearby greenhouse displays ‘Thai plants’, but as many of them are South American, it is rather a display of plants found in Thailand. Unfortunately there were no signs for these plants.

The temple is not yet finished, and so we met with Thai artists decorating the walls. The staff is Swedish, and the nearby restaurant run by Swedish staff serves three Thai-Swedish dishes for about 300 SEK or 1500 Baht.

The entrance fee is 90 SEK or 450 baht for adults and 30 SEK or 150 Baht for children. This may seem expensive as Swedish governmental national museums charge 80 SEK or 400 Baht only, but such museums have governmental support as well, while this temple is run by a foundation.

A nearby meditation centre is the home of a Thai monk and the place for Buddha figures (the temple is rather a pavillion with a bronze statue of King Chulalongkorn).

Ketsanee Seehamongkol & Eric Danell

Ketsanee picking Leccinum scabrum mushrooms outside a Thai temple in Sweden.

A mural inside the temple depicts Swedish King Oskar II (left) and King Chulalongkorn (middle and bronze statue) and the current King Rama IX (right). On top of their heads are the Uppsala cathedral (left) and the Emerald Buddha temple in Bangkok (right).

A Thai spirit house in Sweden. Geranium sylvaticum adds some blue to the white.

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