Wat Pho Bangkok is in the bucket list of any Bangkok visitor. 7 years ago as a tourist I was melting under the sun on Wat Pho land together with the crowds of sweating people from all over the world and only wishing to get back to the air-conditioned bus! From that visit I remembered just the annoying coins jingle…
7 years later I came here again, alone, with the guide whose only wish was to get rid of me as soon as possible; but this time the temple and I liked each other! I am sharing what I’ve seen and promise there won’t be any dates or history – they are boring and hard to remember!
Wat Po is the oldest and largest temple of Bangkok, and one of only 6 in the country with the highest status: the first-class royal temple
Time out of mind a temple was built here; and it became an educational center, where people learnt religion, literature and science. This temple was the birthplace of famous Thai massage, too!
Today Wat Pho consists of 2 compounds. The southern one is with a monastery and a Buddhist school. Stupas, the temple of reclining Buddha and a school of massage are in the northern part of the temple; which is the tourists destination. The entrance ticket is 100 baht and it’s more than worth it!
The gates along the wall of the temple are guarded by the stone soldiers. These statures were brought from China by trading ships as ballast. Some of these soldiers are said to depict Europeans, but I fail to spot any among them!
Most likely the soldiers of the same army are guarding the entrance into another must-see temple of Bangkok – Wat Arun; In due time a lot of ballast was imported from China!
There is nowhere to step foot from the stupas here! Small ones are 91, huge – 4, plus 2 belfries; they all are – fabulous!
Here are Matryoshka-style stupas: in descending sizes order!
This one is in trendy blue colors
This one was especially stunning!
Each of these stupas was built in honor of different Ramas. First the statues of Buddha were placed there, but something went wrong, and the monks saw it as a bad sign and pulled them out; now these stupas are empty inside.
A little more about Buddha statues: there are more than 1000 images of Buddha in Wat Pho – it’s more that in any other temple in Thailand
Wat Pho Massage School is the oldest in Thailand; the course of study can last from 2 weeks to 1 year. Students from more than 100 countries have studied here!
Here we are at last – the main attraction of Wat Pho – Reclining Buddha! Making circles around and between the stupas, people get thirsty, and the monks are merciful: you can get free water here, take a short rest – and go ahead, Buddha’s crown is already seen!
He is glorious! Start walking and I’ll share some amazing facts about him. Reclining Buddha of Wat pho is one of the biggest in the country: 46 m long and 15 m high. The bricks are in his core; plaster was used to shape his figure, then gilded. His eyes are inlayed with mother-of-pearl.
This Buddha image represents his entry into Nirvana, at the end of all reincarnations.
A small Reclining Buddha is in front of its prototype – another one of 1000 figures, residing in Wat Pho
His feet soles are 3 m high and 4,5 m long, mother-of-pearl inlayed. Each of them is divided into 108 panels with Buddha’s symbols by which he can be recognized: flowers, white elephants, dancers, tigers, altar accessories. At the center of each foot there is a circle representing chakra.
We reached the end of Buddha – front view – and now we are outside. Everyone has a peep at him through the window here!
We are entering the next door and start moving a reverse direction; Buddha is with his back to us now.
And here is the source of the endless jingle that annoyed me so much 7 years ago! They are the coins which people throw into 108 (the number of Buddha sighs) bronze bowls, lined along the wall. The coins are given at the entrance in exchange for any money donation; this deed is believed to bring good fortune, as well as the maintenance to the wat.
If your clothes are not in accord with temples rules, you’ll be offered to wear a kimono-like blue gown. And don’t worry about your shoes left outside! You can put them into the blue bag (they are in the baskets at the entrance) and carry with you (look at the couple in the photo)
From this side we can see that Buddha rests on two box-pillows richly decorated with glass mosaic
Buddha’s right arm supports his head in tight curls. Have a look at the walls and ceiling! They are not covered with wall paper, they all are painted by hand!…. And for us it’s time to say good-bye to Buddha..
Monks were chanting in the temple next to Reclining Buddha; I popped in and found all Wat Pho monks handsome and educated
I should say so: the best temple of the country deserves the best monks!
When you visit Wat Pho, stop and admire its lamp posts: they are a real piece of art!
As an epilogue there are some dates for history lovers:
-1788 – the beginning of Wat Pho construction on the site of the older one; Rama I initiated it after making Bangkok the capital of Thailand;
-1824-1855 – Wat Pho modification by Rama V
-1982 – WAT Зho was restored before the Bangkok 200 years Celebration.
-1832 – Reclining Buddha was built
How you can spot Wat Pho? There are many ways to get there, I’ll tell how I did it, having killed two birds with one stone.
I took a 15 baht boat from the Pier at BTS station Saphan Taksin and got to Pier 6 Memorial Bridge
Here what it looks like
From here the biggest flower market of Bangkok starts! In Thai it is Pak Khlong Talad. This is a long street with sois and indoor market packed with flowers of any kind and color! It’s a paradise for a photographer! You go through this street, taking great pictures, then cross the crooked intersection, and move on straight. There is a Museum of Siam on your left hand – pass it by; and after another hundred meters – you’ll see it – Wat Pho!