The Wat Pho is one of six temples in Thailand holding the highest distinction of First-class Royal Temple. The temple sits in the Phra Nakhon District, a boat ride across the Wat Arun. The Wat Pho existed long before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand. However, it did not reach its current appearance until rebuilt by King Rama I and renovated by King Rama III. Its official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan, but most people refer to it as Wat Pho. The name Wat Pho comes from the temple’s previous name, Wat Photoram. The name refers to the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, Inda, where Buddha was said to have reached enlightenment. The temple, after the expansion during the reign of King Rama III, covers an area of 80,000 sq meters. Therefore, I will break up this article by sections.
Viharn Phranorn, the building/chapel that contains what everyone travels to the Wat Pho to see, the reclining Buddha. The chapel was built by King Rama III in 1832. The posture of the image of the Buddha is called the sihasaiyas or Lion’s pose. It represents Buddha’s entry into Nirvana. The statue itself is 15m high and 46m long, one of the largest Buddha figures in Thailand (and the world). It’s so large, I actually was unable to take a picture of the whole statue. In front of the Buddha along the opposite wall are 108 bronze bowls, said to represent the Buddha’s 108 “auspicious characters”. You can drop coins into these bowls one by one as it is said it brings good fortune. You can also support the upkeep of the temple at the same time.
The Phra Ubosot ( or Phra Uposatha) is the main ordination hall where Buddhist rituals are performed. It is also the most sacred building in the whole complex. While doing research for this, I read a description of the inside of the hall on Wikipedia. I don’t think I can top that so I’ll just quote it here. “Inside the ubosot is a gold and crystal three-tiered pedestal topped with a gilded Buddha made of a gold-copper alloy, and over the statue is a nine-tiered umbrella representing the authority of Thailand.” The bot dates back to the 18th century where it was constructed by King Rama I, however, it was later rebuilt by King Rama III in the “Rattanakosin-style”. You can click that link if you want to know what exactly that means.
Surrounding the Phra Ubosot is the Phra Rabiang. The Phra Rabiang is a “double-cloister” (a fancy architectural term referring to a French ambulatory divided into two by columns) containing almost 400 Buddha images. The images are either sitting or standing and lay on identical gilded pedestals. Outside the Phra Rabiang at each corner are Phra Prang, towers tiled in marble depicting four khmer-style statues, guardians of the four cardinal points.
Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn
Last up are the Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn. These are four 42m high stupas, dedicated to the first four Chakri kings. The first is covered in green-mosaic tile. It was constructed by King Rami I to house the remains of a Great Monk from Aythaya. Two other stupas were built by King Rama III, a white one to house the remains of King Rama II and a yellow-tiled chedi for himself. The fourth and final chedi was built by King Rama IV, where the four chedi were subsequently sealed.
I hope you enjoyed the above guide for the Wat Pho. It took a little while to gather this information, edit the photos, edit the video, etc. I would appreciate it if you left a comment and shared this post on social media. You can use the buttons below to link to your various social media profiles. The video that follows this post is linked below. I also included a couple extra photos I thought were interesting!