North of Bangkok, in Pathum Thani, is Wat Phra Dhammakaya, a temple dedicated to Dhammakaya meditation. It was built quite recently in 1970 and currently being massively expanded.
Lets be honest about this, the reason to visit this temple is not because it is massively spiritual, rather it is massively huge. It's the mega-city of temples, a huge imposing site of concrete buildings around a golden dome shaped like a spaceship, visible from space.
The sheer scale of this place puts you in awe. More than 6 times bigger than Mega Bangna the huge mall outside of Bangkok. The meditation halls alone could swallow Mega Bangna Mall car-parks and all! I've placed them side by side on a map at the same scale. The giant seating stands that surround the central saucer could wrap Mega, all its shops, car parks, cinemas and restaurants and still have plenty of room to spare.
Over 1 million people have been to this temple, at the same time. With such a huge temple, it would be difficult to find each other. They're thought of that. The covered hall is zoned with Thailand provinces, so people can narrow the scale down to a more human scale, find their province and so find their friends.
At the center of the temple is a Cheda, the central mound, itself is a flying saucer shaped golden dome in the middle of a prayer area. Around this is a massive concrete stadium like surrounding structure and around the main complex a system of roads and 4 multistory car-parks, and 30 smaller parks for cars and buses.
Take a closer look at the dome, it has texture but only a camera with high zoom can see the details. It's covered in what looks like chain links, but look closer and those are statues of Buddha or perhaps a meditating monk, it so stylized.
At the entrance, a smaller flying saucer, the Memorial Hall, shimmers with colors. At first I thought this was the famous UFO Chedi, not having a concept of the scale of this place. This hall alone would make for a large temple all on its own.
A lot of the new building work is being finished, workers install the lighting and the hydraulic floor that moves a section out of the way to clear a view through the stands to the dome. This whole pavilion will offer shade to perhaps half a million people.
Alongside the temple, another massive globe is being built, this is just the office block for holding the staff who run the temple complex. This temple strives to be different with amazing architecture, scale and a style different from a regular temple.
It's also eerily quiet, I was there in the mid-day heat, when nobody visits and only the builders were there with me. If anything this makes the place seem larger, with individual builders visible as tiny specs on the distant horizon!