Wat Pho Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
- Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. It is located at the south side of the Grand Palace and is protected by massive walls through which only two of the 16 gates are open to the public. The first temple was built in the 16th century. The 8 hectare complex was added to by successive kings.
- Historically the site was a type of university for public education and hence today we see an array of miscellaneous buildings, murals and inscriptions dealing with astrology, military defence, literature, morality, archaeology and traditional medicine. The temple compound is large and contains numerous pavilions, statues, buildings, 91 Chedi and enclosed gardens.
- Whilst the Temple of the Reclining Buddha inside the complex is a tourist favorite the larger temple to the east wall is more impressive.
- Wat Pho is located on twenty acres south of the Grand Palace on Rattanakosin Island. It was established in 1788 as a first grade royal monastery by Rama I [ King Phra Buddha Yod Fa The Great ] upon the commencement of the Chakri Dynasty. To find it, look for, Thai Wang road on the north side, Settakan road on its south side, Sanam Chai road on its east side and Maharat road on its west side. Divided by a tall white wall on Chetaphon road the monastery is divided between the monk's residential section and the sacred chapel section. The present site was previously a monastery but what you see today is the result of 16.5 years of development commencing with Rama I.
Wat Pho Bangkok
Things to see at Wat Pho:
- The Sheltered Gates, The Main Chapel, Phra Uposatha, The Crystal Wall, Kampaengkaew, Phra Prang, Phra Rabieng and Phra Viharn Thit, The Single Based Chedi, Phra Viharn Kod, Phra Chedi Rai, The Khao Mor, The Sala Rai, The Belfry, Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn, The Temple Museum, The Vihara of the Recling Buddha, The Scripture Hall, Phra Mondrop, The teaching Hall, Sala Karn Parien, Missakawan Park, The Crocodile Pond, The Contorted Hermit Mount, The Traditional Medical Science School, The Chinese Ballast, Pagodas, Giants and Rockeries.
Wat Pho Bangkok
The Sheltered Gates
- There are sixteen Sheltered Gates to enter the complex. Tourists can enter through the eastern and northern Gates which are open to the public. As also depicted in the image here, the Sheltered Gates each have the same style with large wooden doors supported by brick and render supports on top of which are crown like spires decorated with multicolored mosaic flowers. These flowers are made from Chinese ceramic bowls which were cut into petal shapes and inserted in the render.
- This is the Hall used for monastic ritual and is the main chapel, Bot or Assembly Hall. It was constructed in the period of Rama I and expanded in the period of Rama III. It is illustrated in the top left side image. It is designed in the Ayutthaya style. The principal image of Buddha also shown in the image is called Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn and it is situated a top a three tiered pedestal under which some ashes of King Rama I are kept. The interior of the Hall is covered with fine murals and the inside of the panels for the windows are covered in lacquer work. This is the most impressive building at Wat Pho.
Wat Pho Bangkok
Then Crystal Wall, Kampaengkaew
- This refers to the double marble walls surrounding the main Chapel Phra Ubosot. Here there are eight sheltered gates and eight sculpted boundary stones. The outer side is decorated with bas-relief stone carvings. Here the scenes are of nature, mountains, animals and trees. The outer side of the balustrades around the main Chapel are decorated with 152 selected scenes in bas-relief depicting the Ramayana. These scenes were for many years used to make paper rubbings which were framed and sold to tourists. Because of the damage caused to the bas-relief surfaces this practice is now prohibited.
- A Prang is a structure in which revered objects are stored. A Maha Stupa is the name for a ''great pagoda''. In Wat Pho there are four pagodas each on the outer side of the chapel yard square. These are tiled in white marble and have Khmer styled statues covered in gold leaves and positioned in the inlaid doorways. These are the Guardian Divinities or the four Cardinal Points on each of the four corners of the square.
- A belfry comprises a bell in a mounted tower. They can be found in every monastery in Thailand and they are used to tell the time. Additionally from a spiritual context in Buddhism, they are said to symbolise ''awakening of the Noble truth and the feeling of peace.'' There are two belfries in Wat Pho at the south and north sides of the group of four dynasty pagodas (Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn). Then mount structures are tetrahedrons with twelve notchedrim forms with tall spires on a pedestal with stairs and a small boundary wall.
- Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn refers to the group of four large pagodas surrounded by a large white wall with Thai and Chinese style sheltered gates decorated with glazed tiles and Chinese rock guardians. Each of these pagodas is 42 meters high with notched rim structures with a tall spire and covered in colorful mosaics. The pagoda with green mosiac was constructed in the reign of Rama I and covers an Ayutthaya period image of the standing Buddha. This is 16 meters high and was brought from the ruined Royal Palace in Ayutthaya following its destruction by the Burmese invaders. The white, yellow and dark blue mosaic covered pagodas were constructed under the reigns of Ram II, Rama III and Rama IV respectively. These four pagodas were surrounded by the white wall upon the direction of King Mongkut to reflect the fact these four Kings at some stages meet each other and were at some point alive at the same time.
Wat Pho Bangkok
The Vihara of the Recling Buddha
- This building was constructed for housing the image of the Reclining Buddha. The image of the reclining Buddha is made of stuccoed bricks and gilded with gold leaves. It is 46 meters long, 15 meters high at the head end and 3 meters at the feet end. The feet are 5 meters long (or wide). The sole's of the Buddha image are inlaid with mother of pearl on which are crafted the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha. The art work on the inlay is of Thai- Chinese style. Inside the Viharn the inner walls are lined with murals. This Viharn and image is where most tour groups are led to but it is by no means the only major monument to see at Wat Pho.