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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bangkok - Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Tour date: 29th May 2013

It was almost mid day when we arrived at Wat Pho from the floating market. Though we were hungry, the cool temperature inside where the reclining Buddha seated made us forgotten our hunger. The tourist has crowded the place whilst the locals were offering prayers. We were really impressed with the interior decoration. Kindly noted that you must put your shoes in the provided shoe bag and carry it with you. Strictly "no shoes" inside.



Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, Thailand, located in the Rattanakosin district directly adjacent to the Grand Palace. Is is famously known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram RatchaworamahawihanThe temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Remarks: In 2005, hubby and I tried the Thai massage which basically no use of oil for massaging, rather a system of massage assisted with stretching @ bodywork method.

The front view

Back view - only to show the pillow with Anne smile broadly

Wat Pho is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived. Prior to the temple's founding, the site was a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga positions. An enormous Buddha image from Ayuthaya's Wat Phra Si Sanphet was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, hence, King Rama I incorporated its fragments to build a temple to enlarge and renovate the complex, where it was today.

Foot indicating 108 auspicious symbols of Buddha

The image of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head with tight curls on two box-pillows of blue, richly encrusted with glass mosaics. The 3 m high and 4.5 m long foot of Buddha displays are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories. Over the statue is a 7 tiered umbrella representing the authority of Thailand. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. People drop coins in these bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune, and as donation to help the monks maintain the complex. Though the reclining Buddha is not a pilgrimage centre, it remains an object of popular piety.

108 bronze bowls indicating 108 auspicious characters of Buddha

The complex underwent many changes in 260 years. Under King Rama III, plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple. These received a recognition in the Memory of the World Programme launched by UNESCO on 21st February 2008. Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha in a small raised garden, where it centerpiece being a Bodhi tree which is propagated from the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting for enlightenment


The temple was created as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with the work beginning in 1788. The temple was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III and was restored again in 1982. 

The fish pond garden - so serene and so lovely with the Bodhi's small tree

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats (temple) in Bangkok which is a home to more than 1000 Buddha images, as well as one of the largest single Buddha images of 160 ft length, the Reclining Buddha. The Wat Pho complex consists of two walled compounds bisected by Soi Chetuphon running east–west. The northern walled compound is where the reclining Buddha and massage school are found. 

"Chedi Rai" near Phra Rabieng cloister

The southern walled compound is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school. Outside the temple, the grounds contain 91 stupas, 4 halls and a central shrine. 71 stupas of smaller size contains the ashes of the royal family, and 21 large ones contain the ashes of Buddha. The 4 stupas are dedicated to the 4 Chakri kings. The temple has sixteen gates around the complex guarded by Chinese giants carved out of rocks. These statues were originally imported as ballast on ship trading with China.


The outer cloister has images of 400 Buddhas out of the 1200 originally bought by king Rama V. In terms of architecture, they are varied in different styles and postures evenly mounted on matching gilded pedestals (can be seen in below photo). The main temple is raised in marble platform punctuated by mythological lions in the gateways. The exterior balustrade has around 150 depictions of the epic, Ramakien, the ultimate message of which is transedence from secular to spiritual dimensions.

Among 400 statues of Buddha

Thai Massage school

The information centre which is available at the courtyard

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