Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai Hell Garden – Tambon Sa Kamphaeng Yai, Thailand - Atlas Obscura
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Tambon Sa Kamphaeng Yai, Thailand

Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai Hell Garden

Gruesome statues of people reborn in Buddhist hell stand among the ruins of an 11th-century sanctuary. 

The garden may be small, but the horrific artwork it contains is more than enough to sear its message into the minds of anyone brave enough to stroll through this gory corner of a religious complex. There, strange statues show—with shockingly gruesome detail—the many ways to torture a human soul.

The statues all stand within the Hell Garden at Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai, a fairly modern Buddhist temple situated within a much older complex. They’re meant to warn sinners of the unspeakable horrors awaiting their souls in Naraka, Buddhist Hell.

Though small in size, the Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai Hell Garden is still no easy sight to take in. The strange, twisted statues are all subjected to a whole assortment of gory, graphic injuries and abnormalities. A man weighed down by his oversized penis is the veritable cherry on top of the cake in this smorgasbord of vomit, defecation, and general human suffering.

There are similar gardens throughout Thailand, all of which offer visitors the same horrifying experience, usually while leading to a more peaceful place within the site. In each one, the punishment typically mirrors the crime.

Thankfully, Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai also offers a serene respite from the hellish horrors. The oldest structures within the complex are from the Sa Kamphaeng Yai Khmer sanctuary, which dates from the 11th century and is the predecessor to the more modern temple. The old sandstone and brick ruins provide a quiet corner of calm away from the gruesome garden of horrors.