HATYAI MUNICIPAL PARK IS HOME TO THE SPECTACULAR HOLY STATUES OF BUDDHA, KWAN YIN, KWAN KUNG, 4-FACE BRAHMA, LAUGHING BUDDHA, ERAWAN THE 3-HEADED ELEPHANT AND OTHER DIETIES THAT GRACE THE HILL!
Firefly flies direct from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai every Sunday, Monday Wednesday and Friday from RM 99 (one-way).
BELOW ARE IMAGES OF HOLY IMAGES OF HATYAI MUNICIPAL PARK!
The Standing Buddha in the Vitarka Mudra stance denoting intellectual debate
Kuan Yin and her 2 attendants below the Standing Buddha
The 4-Face Brahma above the statue of Erawan
Erawan the 3-headed Elephant
Kuan Kung holding his halberd in right hand and Dragon Stairs at right
Kee Hua Chee inside the Dragon's Steps holding its golden tongue
If you hear of a place with the unpalatable name of Hatyai Municipal Park, you will assume it is nothing more than a vast tract of land with flower beds, bamboo groves, scenic bridge or two over a manmade pond and the usual sad-looking canteens with dustbins made to resemble popular cartoon characters. Plus a children's playground with swings, see saws and benches for parents to wait till their kids are played out.
So I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed when Hatyai Municipal Park turned out to be more Hatyai Holy Hill which is a name I recommend to TAT and the local governing authorities! They should change the name to Hatyai Holy Hill (HHH) as this name reflects the religious stance of the hill. Also a park usually denotes flat land as in a botanic park or garden whereas Hatyai Municipal Park is quite steep and required my driver to use first gear all the time!
On top of that, 'municipal' is a tongue-twister and not easy to pronounce. As for the spelling, even a super genius like me have to slow down (slightly!) to type the correct spelling!
On my way to Songkhla I already saw the stunning vision of the golden Standing Buddha from the main Hatyai-Songkhla highway and looked forward to visiting it on the way back.
In Buddhist hierarchy, the most important is Buddha and this Standing Buddha is around 20 metres, making it the tallest Buddha in southern Thailand.
Called Phra Buddha Mongkol Maharaj, it weighs 200 tons and was made in 1999 to celebrate the King of Thailand's 6th Cycle Birthday Celebration which was his 72nd birthday.
With His right had raised with forefinger and thumb touching each other, this mudra denotes 'Intelligence, Intellect and Integrity'. Called Vitarka Mudra, this gesture is the sign of the Wheel of Law and as He gazes over Songkhla province, peace, order and harmony will prevail.
All the statues are located outdoors without any roof or cover. This openair location means they are exposed to the elements and incur a heavier maintenance since colours fade from the heat of the sun and hairline cracks must be repaired. However, I prefer the outdoor location as the brilliant blue sky and white clouds make a breathtaking background.
I was gasping for breath as I took the photos of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy against the backdrop of dramatic clusters of clouds amid an azure sky that makes her appear as if she has just descended from heaven to bless us. I worship all the gods and deities but I pray particularly to Buddha and Kuan Yin.
The statues of the golden Standing Buddha and pure white Goddess of Mercy are a quick drive from each other. Kuan Yin's shrine is still under construction though her main statue and those of her 2 attendants are completed.
Her 2 attendants are called Golden Boy and Jade Girl or Lung Nu the Dragon Maiden and Shang Sai the Celestial Youth. After Kuan Yin taught the Dharma and religious scriptures to the Dragon King, he sent his daughter to offer her a Flamming Pearl. The girl was so enraptured by Kuan Yin she begged to be her disciple and was accepted and became Dragon Maiden. The Celestial Youth was a novice monk who studied Buddhism from 53 Boddhisattvas and Kuan Yin was the 28th.
He too asked to be her disciple. To test his sincerity, Kuan Yin conjured a band of robbers who chased her till she jumped off a cliff. Without hesitation, Shang Sai also leaped off the mountain to follow her. Being a mortal he crashed to the ground and died. Kuan Yin then welcomed his soul and showed him his battered corpse as they floated in the sky. Now freed from the constraint of mortal flesh, he was able to accompany the Goddess of Mercy eternally.
At ground level below Kuan Yin is the larger than life statue of Kuan Kung, another very popular and much worshipped in southern China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Many Chinese restaurants and small business devote a shrine to him as he is also the God of Business. Another title he carries is God of War though in his case, 'war' refers to brotherhood, courage and righteousness as Kuan Kung is mentioned in the great novel 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'.
He died in 219 AD and was deified during the Sui dynasty (581-618) and was referred as 'Saintly Emperor Kuan' and regarded as emperor though he never ruled a kingdom.
In 1614 the Wanli emperor bestowed the grand title of 'Saintly Emperor Guan the Great God who Subdues Demons of the Three Worlds and Whose Strength Spreads Far and Moves Heaven'!
I have never seen a gigantic statue of Erawan the 3 Headed Elephant and vehicle of the god Indra until I visited Hatyai Municipal Park.
Erawan is truly awesome with his 3 heads, 6 tusks and 1 body. His heads arch skywards and as I walked towards the Brahma shrine, I had to walk under him and looking up at his majestic body was truly humbling. I could just visualise Erawan flying through the heavens carrying Indra.
Indra is the Hindu god of war, weather and thunderstorms. His weapon is the thunderbolt or vajra. In a celebrated battled against the demon Vitra, Indra promised not to attack Vitra with anything made of metal, stone or wood nor anything that was dry or wet or during day or night. Vitra was satisfied with these conditions which appeared to cover everything so he should be totally safe!
Alas, in this kalpa, not everything is as it seems. The ingenious Indra used foam from seawaves and killed Vitra at twilight which is neither day or night!
Erawan is always associated with the 4-Face Brahma and in Bangkok, possibly the most famous shrine is dedicated to the 4-Face Brahma which is slightly smaller than life-sized. Here I clambered up a flight of steps to worship a large statue of Brahma, totally clad in gold. As Indra is supposed to be golden also, Brahma can also be seen as a manifestation of Indra.
Brahma is one of the tripartite of gods together with Vishnu and Shiva, rather similar to the Holy Trinity of Jesus Christ, the Father and Holy Ghost!
Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Most Buddhists pray to Brahma and even Erawan the 3-headed elephant.
Near Brahma shrine is a tall cage from which firecrackers are lit which produces the familiar firecracking sound we used to hear during Chinese New Year. Indeed at the back of the cage is a mini mountain of spent firecrackers!
As I returned to my luxury coach, I passed the larger than life statue of Kuan Kung holding his halberd or spear in his right hand. This is important as triads, secret societies and gangsters also worship Kuan Kung but his statues carry this weapon in his left hand! Even the underworld has its own perverse code of conduct!
Nearby is something I would like to have for my staircase----one shaped as a dragon with mouth wide open! The dragon's mouth is so cavernous it acts as a tunnel for visitors to walk up and down! Its tongue is artfully crafted onto the steps and the entire structure looks very dramatic if slightly nerve wrecking.
The more delicate feng shui believers might think twice about literally entering and walking straight into a dragon's jaws! However, any fear is mitigated by what awaits once you climb the short flight of steps---a huge figure of Laughing Buddha. So laugh away your fears and enter the dragon's parlour so to speak and make your way to the garden beyond the dragon's snarling fangs to greet Laughing Buddha!
Hatyai Municipal Park is 6 km from Hatyai city and easily accessible. There is also a cable car from the base to the top for those in Jimmy Choo high heels.
The Golden Standing Buddha with his hand in the Vitarka Mudra gesture that denotes intellectual discussion as this sign of forefinger touching thumb symbolises the Wheel of Law
A wind blows out this royal flag just for me
Kee Hua Chee, a Boddhisattva, paying homage to Buddha
View of Standing Buddha reflected on the back glass window of my luxury coach!
View of Hatyai from the peak
Kuan Yin and her 2 attendants Golden Boy and Jade Girl are in white to denote her purity
As Buddha is the absolute god, Kuan Yin is located on lower part of the hill in accordance to hierarchy
In honour of Kuan Yin, Kee Hua Chee also wore white to denote his purity and sincerity though he is nowhere as pristine as the Goddess of Mercy
Even the sky turns a shade more azure and the clouds gathered to form auspicious shapes in recognition of Kee Hua Chee's visit to pay homage to his patron goddess
Kuan Kung the mighty God of War, God of Business and God of Education holds his halberd in his right hand. The underworld also worships him but the gangsters and triads worship statues of Kuan Kung holding his halberd in his left arm!
Kuan Kung with Dragon's Steps
The Dragon's Steps leading to Laughing Buddha
The first look at Erawan as this is the way to Brahma Shrine
This is the first time I have ever seen a huge statue of Erawan
Note the smaller, lifesized statue of a normal elephant at the top of the balcony
Kee Hua Chee in front of Erawan
At the top of the hillock above Erawan is 4-Face Brahma shrine
Both black and white elephants trumpet towards Hatyai
Visitors can hit the gongs for luck
Garlanded, normal sized elephant
This enclosure is to protect children and foolish visitors from straying too near the firecrackers
Devotees can buy and donate an elephant for luck
Sacred Bo tree planted from the original tree under which Gautama Siddartha gained enlightenment
Kee Hua Chee standing underneath the male Erawan as clearly proven
Dramatic photo of Erawan taken from directly underneath
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