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Wat Pho
Written by Vengatesh on June 24, 2020 Share on

Wat Pho: Bangkok’s Temple of The Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), is right behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha – it’s a must-place for any first-time visitor to Bangkok. As it is one of the largest temples in the city, it’s framed for its giant reclining Buddha that is 46 meters long, covered in gold leaf.

Wat Pho
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

It’s a 10-minute walk from Grand Palace, and we recommend coming to Wat Pho second because the golden Buddha here is popular as Wat pho, many people don’t take the time to wander around the rest of the complex and make it more of a relaxing experience. Wat Pho is also a famous place to get a traditional Thai massage and it’s often considered the leading school of massage in Thailand.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho :

Reclining Buddha
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

The highlight is the reclining Buddha for most of the people visiting Wat Pho. The figures here are impressive: 15 meters high, 46 meters long, so wide that it looks like it’s trapped in the house. The Buddha ‘s feet are 5 meters long and exquisitely decorated with mother-of-pearl illustrations of the Buddha’s auspicious laksas (characteristics). The number 108 is important, referring to 108 positive acts and symbols that helped to bring Buddha to perfection.

You’ll need to take off your shoes to get in, and if you want a little bit of good luck, we recommend buying a bowl of coins at the entrance to the hall, which you can drop in 108 bronze bowls that line the length of the walls. Dropping the little pennies makes a nice ringing sound, and even if your wishes don’t come true, the money goes to help the monks renovate and preserve Wat Pho. Since this is a revered image, all visitors must wear appropriate clothing – no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee.

Buddha Statue
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

The Wat Pho Bangkok houses three hundred and ninety-four golden Buddha statues meditating on the lotus pose. Such statues have been gathered from all over Thailand and placed in the temple for preservation. A walk through the intricately decorated walls of Wat Pho leads to the courtyard, which is superbly decorated with Chinese statues and ninety-one stupas decorated with ceramics and coloured tiles.

Wat Pho, Bangkok is an immensely valued landmark in itself. But it is also quite close to other places of great beauty and importance, such as Wat Arun and the Grand Palace. In fact, the Grand Palace is a 10-minute walk from the Temple of the Buddha.

Other highlights :

It’s worth exploring at the rest of the house. Wat Pho also has good English speaking guides that will provide useful details about 200 or 400 baht, depending on how many people there are in your party and how good your negotiation skills are. Wander around on your own, if you prefer.

The recommended sites include four chapels with 394 gilded Buddha images, long lines of golden statues from different parts of Thailand sitting in a lotus pose. Although the intricately painted murals that cover the Wat Pho walkways would take a book or a guide to decode, the exquisite murals are so painted and intricate that even if you don’t understand all the images, you can still appreciate the artwork.

Finally, in the courtyards of the Wat Pho Temple, there are some comical-looking Chinese statues that were once used as ballast on ships and 91 chedis (stupas) adorned with ceramic pottery flowers and colourful tiles.

Grand Palace :

Grand Palace :
Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org/

If the reclining Buddha is not enough to please, the Wat Pho temple complex also boasts the largest array of Buddha images in Thailand and holds the distinction of the country’s first public education centre specializing in religion, science and literature. Most of the Buddha images on display were taken from abandoned temples in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai to Wat Pho, by order of King Rama I.

Many equate Wat Pho with traditional Thai massage and are right to do so, as the temple complex is also the national headquarters for teaching and maintaining traditional Thai medicine, including Thai massage, a mandate that Rama III legislated when the tradition was in danger of extinction.

Due to the popularity of the nearby Grand Palace, Wat Pho has fewer tourists and is, therefore, a little more relaxing to walk around. A 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace and has plenty to sell to tourists.

Things to know :

Wat Pho was Thailand’s first public university, specializing in religion, science and literature. It is now better known as a centre for traditional massage and medicine. There’s nothing like a relaxing foot or head and shoulder massage after a walk around the temple. If you’ve never had a traditional Thai massage before, It is a perfect place to try it.

It is quite different from most other forms of therapeutic massage and tends to be invigorating rather than relaxing, incorporating yoga style postures to relieve stress and improve blood circulation. This is a very popular activity at the Wat Pho Temple, so we recommend that you pop in before your treatment to book a spot, or you might end up with a long wait.

Wat Pho can be found on Maharat Road, near the river (a mile south of the Grand Palace) in the Old Town (Rattanakosin).

Things that you should be aware of when you visit :

  • Respectful clothing is necessary. Wat Pho is a functioning Thai Buddhist temple, and as such the administration demands that visitors dress in a respectful manner. This means that men must wear long pants and short-sleeved shirts or long-sleeved shirts (no tank tops or sleeveless shirts). Women should wear skirts or trousers that reach at least to the knee, and should also not wear a top that exposes bare shoulders.
  • Visitors are permitted to take pictures in every region of the complex.
  • It is recommended that you wear shoes that can be removed easily because you need to remove them when entering any structure in the complex.

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