This article is dedicated to the Siamese community in Kampung Teresek, Repek - a small but peaceful village. Without this community existence, there will never be any history arise for many devoted Buddhist who have faith in Tok Raja to cherish. Therefore, Repek (Bangsek) village is considered a sacred birthplace of this legendary monk whom lived during our lifetime. While the profound Dharma is still flourishing at Wat Uttamaram that once initiated by Tok Raja, we share the joy of gaining merits for ourselves and partake the efforts and good cause dedicated by Tok’s successors to carry out his heritage for today’s generation.
Namo Bodhisato Punnak Suwanno Patissimae
Wat Uttamaram's Main Shrine
Wat Uttamaram at present day is located at Repek, Pasir Mas in Kelantan near the Rantau Panjang/Thai border. This temple was known as Wat Bangsek in the past with a legendary monk and its colorful temple history. Until today if you were to ask its local villagers for Wat Uttamaram direction, they won’t know unless you mention Wat Bangsek. Truly as Malaysian Buddhist, we should feel grateful that we have one such miraculous monk Venerable Khron Ratchanaren the 1st Chief Abbot whom had made Wat Uttamaram Bangsek so well-known and respected all over
More than a hundred years ago, according to Repek kampong folks this temple was originally located at Lubok Jong when the young venerable was first ordained as a Sammanera Bhikku. Lubok Jong is situated not that far distance from Repek. Venerable Khron went for further studies in Pali and Buddhist examinations in Songkhla. Upon completing his monastic studies and spiritual assignments at several temples in Songkhla, he then requested for a transfer home to his birth village firstly relocated to Wat Kampong Dalam. It was believed that sometime from B.E. 2468 (A.D. 1925) onward Venerable Khron relocated Wat Bangsek and re-established Wat Uttamaram in Repek to further spread Buddhism and to teach Vipassana Kamathana meditation technique. Venerable Khron strongly believed in education as the source for knowledge.
Life was tough in the early days at Wat Uttamaram as it was surrounded by thick forested jungles and the only mode of transportation then is via its river networks. Today we can still see a small river at the temple entrance and another downstream river at the backyard. In addition to this geographical set-back, the temple ground was also inherited by devilish spirits and supernatural forces that constantly disturb temple residents. Venerable Khron had a tough time convincing new novices and ordained monks wanting to learn and practice Buddhism under his guidance to stay for longer period of time. That was the time when Venerable Khron began making his legendary ‘Tongkat’ sticks that can perform miraculous cure for any type of ailments and they can be used to exorcise evil spirits that will not be discussed here.
Venerable Khron “Tok Raja” was greatly admired by the kampong Bomohs and they too learned from him sacred versus ‘Katha’, exorcism and healing ailments technique. The legendary "Tar Yai" or Tiger spirits owned by Tok Raja is symbolized by the tiger statues at the backyard of the temple facing the river stream. Tok Raja often called upon his kept spiritual pets when conducting any important ceremonies. Tok Raja's invulnerability and power stemmed from his knowledge in combining Malay Bomoh and Siamese Shaman technique.
One of the oldest and still living disciple Bomoh in Tok Raja’s era is Archan Kuan age 87 years (A.D. 2009) whom is also the younger brother of the late Chao Koon Chan, the second Abbot of Wat Uttamaram.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that despite Tok Raja’s high Vicha knowledge and attainment, he has a very erratic temper and observing the Precepts and monastic code of conducts strictly. In those days, the temple compound has a variety of fruit trees. The locals dare not dare to pluck any of these fruits within the temple vicinity fearing repercussion without the approval from Tok Raja. The villagers don’t even dare to touch any of these sweet fruits even though they are fully ripened and almost going to be rotten. When Tok Raja said ‘you all may eat now’, only then the villagers dare to take all the fruits to their heart’s content. The same goes for petty thieves whom commit acts of stealing valuables inside the temple will find it impossible to leave as though they are trapped within a giant maze and lost inside the temple ground. That was the miracles that Tok Raja could perform and are feared by many for some good reasons.
Peace and happiness began to surface in the village but not for long when war soon broke up. During World War 2 the Japanese Imperial Army invaded
According to one of Tok’s great grand nephew, Tok will giveaway all his hand crafted Pidta based on fate and the real need of the person seeking it. When Tok said he will give away the Pidta the day after tomorrow, he will not give it any other day even when the requestor begged him.
Tok Raja had dedicated his entire life in spreading Buddhism teachings and helping people from all walks of life. On 19 November 1962 at the age of 86, sadly Tok passed away due to old age. But his lifelong dedication and service to the community and Sangha Order will never diminish in the heart of those whom knew him and have faith in him from the past till present.
With regards to Tok Raja's house where he was born and stayed as a child, Repek villagers could not confirm since it's more than 100 years ago. However, Tok's former residence inside the temple (behind the Main Shrine) is located on the 2nd upper floor. No visitors are allowed to enter his former bedroom because of a strange emitting force that is very powerful till today since he passed away. According to a source from one local Repek folk, even if someone were to sleep directly below Tok's former bedroom at the ground floor, he will not be able to sleep through the night as if some form of powerful energy interfering a good night sleep. What is more to sleep inside Tok's room. The same goes to Chao Koon Chan's former room too behind Tok's room on the upper floor. This strange phenomena is believed to be a direct result of a fully attained monks. The stairway leading to the upper floor is always locked and the rooms are used as the temple storage rooms to store amulets and other holy items.
Venerable Chao Koon Chan also widely known as ‘Ah Kong’ became the 2nd Chief Abbot at Wat Uttamaram after the demise of Tok Raja in 1962. Chao Koon Chan was also a native from Repek but he is not related to Tok’s family lineage. Chao Koon Chan was conferred the eccelestical title of Phra Vicaranayanmuni Nayaka Maha Thera by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Thailand for his services and contributions to Buddhist teachings. Subsequently he was also bestowed the title Lord Abbot of Kelantan state by H.R.H. Sultan of Kelantan in the 60’s.
Chao Koon Chan had brought many improvements to the community and had conducted various charities during his lifetime as the 2nd Chief Abbot. On the 30th day of November 1992 at 6.45 am, Chao Koon Chan passed away peacefully at age 84.
After the demise of Chao Koon Chan, Venerable Than Mit returned from abroad and became the 3rd Chief Abbot at Wat Uttamaram for almost 9 years till his demise. He is also the Chief Abbot at Wat Uttayamuni in Singapore at the same time. It was said that Than Mit followed Tok Raja’s advice to set-up Wat Uttayamuni after his demise to avoid any misunderstanding in the Sangha order.
Visitors can pay respect to Than Mit at the Than Mit's dedicated hall inside Wat Uttamaram. Another temple where visitors can pay respect to Than Mit is at Wat Peyaram in Tangkak, Johor that is closely associated with Wat Uttamaram.
It is a well-known fact that Than Mit is related to Tok Raja family lineage and his birthplace is also in Repek. On the subject of impermanence “anicca” following the universal law of karma as taught by Lord Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha, Than Mit passed away on 25th May 2001.
The present Chief Abbot at Wat Uttamaram is Phrakhru Udomdhamma Patibhano or also widely known as Than Boon. For over 80 years since the humble beginning of Wat Uttamaram (Bangsek) initiated by Tok Raja, it has served its purpose as a learning centre for important Buddhist teachings and meditation subjects. This huge responsibility is passed on to Venerable Than Boon as the current temple Abbot to carry out its heritage in spreading Buddhism teachings and to serve humanity.
As a visitor to Wat Uttamaram, we must be grateful that unlike any other temples in Thailand, Than Boon can converse in local Malay and English language apart from the Thai language. People can converse with Than Boon easily and ask questions on any Buddhism subject matter. Venerable Than Boon displays high composure and benevolence despite how tired he maybe with temple activities and still kind to give blessing upon requests. Let us all wish Than Boon successfully bring the Dharma to all sentient beings and uphold Wat Uttamaram’s heritage for the benefit of all.
Although Wat Uttamaram had achieved strong admiration and recognition from neighboring Thailand, visiting Wat Uttamaram by travelling on a long distance journey may deter most people from getting there. In Kelantan there are nearly 20 Thai temples including Wat Uttamaram and it is a great opportunity for those who take interest in visiting Thai Buddhist temples to take the first initiative.
Firstly, we may want to ask ourselves what is Wat Uttamaram so famous for? This is where the infamous Tok Raja Pidta Phakhawan and Tongkat originated from. Both Pidta Phakhawan and Tongkat are so sacred and they are very famous all over Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
As Malaysian Buddhists following the Theravadian tradition, we must be grateful that we have our very own renowned Thai Buddhist temple in Kelantan that was also highly revered amongst Thais.
There are very few present gurus whom may have learned the sacred techniques of producing Phra Pidta Bangsek either directly or indirectly from Tok Raja. "Bangsek" is the old name of Wat Uttamaram and people can easily associate Pidta Bangsek with Tok Raja.
Pidta Bangsek is also the phim design where the Pidta in black color covers its eyes sitting in meditation. Present gurus that are said to have originated from Tok Raja's lineage are Than Thit of Wat Machimaram in Tumpat, Chao Koon Onn from Sungai Padi in Narathiwat, and LP Daeng of Wat Koksai.
If you have faith in Tok Raja, renting a Bucha is a good idea. Not many people are aware that Tok’s favorite beverage is Black Coffee (without sugar or cream). As a sign of respect and paying homage to Tok Raja’s bucha is to serve a glass of black coffee (without sugar) every morning and pray to Tok for his blessing. Of course in the event black coffee is not available, the alternative is always a glass of clear water to venerate Tok Raja. Other offerings such as betel nuts and leaves with tobacco, and white cooked rice with fried salted fish can also be placed at the altar to pay respect to Tok Raja. Hope this information is useful to anyone and by the merits of this sharing may you also find peace and success from Tok Raja’s bucha.
The other major obstacle faced by most temple goers is the lack of clear road directions to get to Kelantan. There are several options on how to get there either by land or air. The quickest way to get to Kelantan is of course by flight as there is one domestic airport at Pengkalan Chepa in Kelantan capital city Kota Bharu. The other popular choice of travel is to drive all the way to the North East Coast state of Kelantan.
For driving option, there are several routes depending where you are residing. To begin with, let’s emphasize on the starting point within the Klang Valley. From Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur, we can take the journey either by Gerik or Gua Musang route.
Travel Route Option 1: via Gerik
Total distance from PJ to Wat Uttamaram = approx. 550km. Travel time duration is on average 7.5hrs with minimal stopover for refreshment. Travel duration is very much depending on the traffic condition along the trunk roads.
Travel Route Option 2: via Gua Musang
We have inserted important snapshots of road directions along this route for ease of navigation.
Finally visitors will be greeted by a big entrance upon entering the temple compound.
Total distance from PJ to Wat Uttamaram = approx. 500km. Travel time average 7.5hrs with minimal stopover for refreshments. Travel duration is very much depending on the traffic situation along the trunk roads. It is advisable to start your journey by latest 6am in order to reach Wat Uttamaram or Kota Bahru by 1.30pm - 2.00pm.
For visitors going from northern parts e.g. Penang or Ipoh, it is advisable to take the Gerik route. A word of advice for first-timers: Perhaps the best time to visit Wat Uttamaram or any other temples in Kelantan is during off-festive season. Avoid going during temple festivals e.g. Kathina or any special blessing ceremony as there will be too many people and accommodation will also be a problem.
The best time to start your travel journey is before 6am to avoid heavy traffic. You should be able to reach Wat Uttamaram by latest 2.00pm depending how many stops you have made along the journey. Before proceeding with your journey, it is also advisable to arrange for hotel accommodation in advance based on your budget. Below are several hotels in Kota Bharu city center that is approximately 24km away from Wat Uttamaram; Crystal Lodge, Grand Riverview, Royal Guesthouse, Dynasty Inn. To go to Kota Bharu follow the road back to the Round About (where you came from Tanah Merah earlier) and look out for Kota Bharu direction.
For every avid amulet collectors as well as beginners who have never been to Kelantan, this is the chance to take a closer look by yourself at what is installed in Wat Uttamaram's amulet counter.
We would like to wish you a successful journey to discover the wonders and heritage of Kelantan’s most legendary temple made famous by Tok Raja’s Phra Pidta Phakhawan.
Tok Raja's Katha
Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhasa (3x)
"Namo Bodhisato Punnak Suwanno Patissimae"
Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu!
May All Sentient Beings Be Well and Happy Always!