One of the oldest, largest and most revered temple complexes in Bangkok, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha – Wat Pho is a must-see attraction for all visitors to the Thai capital.
History of Wat Pho
Wat Pho was built as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with work beginning in 1788. It was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III (1824-51), and restored again in 1982.
Wat Pho is the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Even prior to the temple’s founding, the site was a center of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga positions. During the Rama III restoration plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple, while in 1962 a school for traditional medicine and massage was established.
What to see
The Wat Pho complex consists of two walled compounds, bisected north-south by Sanamchai Road running east-west. The northern walled compound is where the reclining Buddha and massage school are found. The southern walled compound, Tukgawee, is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school.
Wat Pho is the largest and oldest wat in Bangkok and is home to more than 1,000 Buddha images, more than any other temple in the country. It also shelters the largest Buddha image in Thailand: the Reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas). Created as part of Rama III’s restoration (1824-51), the Reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. His body is covered in gold plating and he is decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay on his eyes and the soles of his feet.
The soles of the Buddha’s feet that are about 3 meters high and almost 5 meters long are inlaid with mother of pearl in 108 segments, showing in great detail the 108 lakshanas or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha. Along the Phra Phuttha Saiyat image you will find a matching 108 bronze bowls, where people donate coins believed to bring good fortune.
In a small garden next to the housing of the Reclining Buddha you will find a Bodhi tree that is a descendant of the Bodhi tree from Bodhgaya in India under which the Buddha reached enlightenment.
The 20 acres temple complex consists of two walled parts separated by a road. The North end closest the Grand Palace contains the main structures like the ubosot, the viharns and the Reclining Buddha. The South end contains the monks private living quarters and a school. The entrances are guarded by huge Chinese warrior statues.
Location: Wat Pho is located in the old Rattanakosin area on the East bank of the Chao Phraya river adjoining the Grand Palace on Thanon Chetuphon. You can get there by metered taxi or by Chao Phraya express river boat. It is a very short walk from Tha Tien Pier.
Entrance fee & opening hours: The temple complex is open daily from 8 am until 6.30 pm, with a lunch break from noon until 1 pm. Admission is 100 Thai Baht per person.
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