PHUKET: HRH Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya will attend a prayer ceremony at the Mingmongkol Buddha project site, in the Nakkerd Hills between Karon and Chalong, at 5 pm on February 11.
Suporn Vanichkul, President of the Mingmongkol Faith 45 project committee that is raising funds for the project, told the Gazette that work on the group’s mammoth Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha image is still two years from completion.
When finished, the 30-million-baht reinforced-concrete colossus will be 45 meters high and 25 meters across at the base. Apart from its philosophical significance, it is expected to become an icon for Phuket and a major tourist attraction, bringing thousands of people a day to a 49-rai area that was, until a few years ago, virgin forest.
Already under construction, the gold-painted image will be in the Maravichai style and will face eastward, overlooking the sea. Workers are now constructing the concrete base that will support the statue and which will be adorned with 40 images of lotus petals.
The focal point of devotion during the Princess’s visit will be a smaller, 12-meter-high Buddha image, also in the Maravichai style, which has already been completed. It was cast from 22 tons of brass at a cost of 8.8 million baht.
The Mingmongkol Faith 45 project committee is funding the entire project through a campaign to solicit donations using the slogan “Enhance your merit value in your mind”.
The group set up collection boxes at shopping malls on the island and now has its own website in both Thai and English to help raise more funds (see here).
K. Suporn told the Gazette that trees have been planted around the site to prevent erosion, and that the project is within the terms agreed upon with the Forestry Department when it was given the go-ahead to continue last year.
Work was ordered stopped in 2003 after construction was deemed to have exceeded the original scope, and for also violating the ban on the construction of permanent structures higher than 80 meters above sea level. (See earlier story here)
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