Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Magnificent Wat Pho

Wat Pho Grand Bouddha Couché

Located only a few dozen meters from the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of my favorite temples. The tourist affluence there is much less compared to its illustrious neighbor, the Grand Palace. 

One feels at ease there and quickly experiences a feeling of tranquility that, in my humble opinion, does not exist at the Grand Palace. The architecture of the Grand Palace is certainly splendid, but here at Wat Pho, after visiting the reclining Grand Buddha, one quickly feels like sitting in a shady, green, quiet corner and contemplating all these spectacular buildings with their magnificent ceramics. Even being an atheist, one can feel something very positive in this rather special place. 

In the Grand Palace, there is the most venerated statue in Thailand, which is only 76 cm high, while here at Wat Pho, you can contemplate and admire the great reclining Buddha, which is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, in a very different size. 

It is also at this place of the temple complex, that the tourist affluence is the strongest .

This Buddha is so big that the chapel was built around him... after the statue was finished.

This reclining Buddha certainly attracts a lot of people, but the crowds have nothing to do with the unspeakable hustle and bustle of the Grand Palace.

As soon as you step out of the temple to the Reclining Buddha, a visit to the temple and its slender chedis is a real treat, a very peaceful, restful stroll, incomparable with the Grand Palais.

 Wat Pho, the temple of the great reclining Buddha

The Wat Pho or “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is one of Bangkok’s most attractive temples. It is a much visited temple complex due to its location immediately South of the Grand Palace and the huge Reclining Buddha image it houses.

The temple that is officially named Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram is one of the six temples in Thailand that are of the highest grade of the first class Royal temples.

The Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple complex in Bangkok, it houses more than 1,000 Buddha images which is more than any other Wat in Thailand. Most of the images were brought over from abandoned temples in places as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai by order of King Rama I.

After the foundation of Bangkok in the Ko Rattanakosin area in 1782 and the construction of the Grand Palace, King Rama I ordered the construction of the Wat Pho. The temple was built on the site of an older, Ayutthaya era temple named Wat Photharam right next to the Grand Palace.
During the reign of King Rama III the temple complex was renovated and enlarged which took over 16 years to complete.

There are also many small businesses. Street vendors, grocery stores, souvenir sellers, small restaurants or cafés....
But as soon as the gate is crossed, the visitor is in front of magnificent buildings covered with softly coloured ceramic tiles.
It is true that with its 15 meters in height, this statue imposes... it is the least we can say
This immense Buddha built in cement, is entirely covered with very fine gold leaves...
It often happens to meet university students in the middle of their work.... 

Structures of the Wat Pho

The Wat Pho temple complex contains a large number of structures, including an ubosot or ordination hall, a number of viharns, a scripture hall and almost 100 chedis. The four largest chedis are dedicated to the first four Kings of the Chakri dynasty. They contain some of the ashes of King Rama I through King Rama IV.

The Ubosot housing the principal Buddha image

The ubosot houses the principal Buddha image of the Wat Pho, named Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn, a magnificent image displaying the meditation mudra seated on a richly decorated pedestal, under which some of the ashes of King Rama I are buried.

Murals dating from the reign of Rama III depict scenes from the Jataka, the stories telling about the previous lives of the Buddha.

The outside walls of the bot contain more than 150 bas reliefs cut out of marble stone showing scenes from the Ramakien epic. Inside a large open gallery you will find a display of almost 400 gilded Buddha images.

Birthplace of Thai massage

The Wat Pho became a center for knowledge and study about traditional Thai medicine. A massage school was founded here that still exists today, around it you will find stone statues showing various massage techniques.

The Wat Pho is known as the birthplace of Thai massage, massage courses are given that are open to anyone.

If you are lucky enough to be on site in the late afternoon, the orange colours of the sun
give these buildings even softer tones.

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