Its official name is Wat Phrachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam Ratchaworamahawihan, although it is commonly called Wat Po.Founded during the 16th century, Wat Pho is most famous for the golden reclining Buddha that measues 46 metres and has feet inlaid with mother-of pearl. This is the main attraction that draws visitors to the temple. In more modern times, Wat Pho has gained international recognition as a meditation centre and for the traditional Thai massage that is both practiced and taught here.
Traditionally, temples were the schools as there was no formal education system, with monks providing basic lesson in both spiritual and secular subjects. King Rama III turned Wat Po into a major centre for learning in botany, geography and history.
Bas reliefs around one of the main buildings depict the story of the Ramakian which is the Thai adaption of the Indian Ramayana.
For those interested in traditional Thai medicine, there is a pavilion that serves to both impart knowledge and provide treatment. The walls have marble tablets describing basic anatomy and treatments. In the late afternoon, traditional medicine practitioners are there to dispense herbal mixtures. Nearby, there is a cloister where you can have a traditional Thai massage for a very small payment.
** In 2008, the historic marble inscriptions in Wat Pho have been registered with UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MOW) as MOW documentary heritage for Asia and Pacific Region
THINGS TO SEE:
Reclining Buddha: this celebrated Buddha image is the work of artisans from the Department of Ten Crafts. On the soles of the image’s feet are the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha in mother-of-pearl inlay. In the reign of King Rama III the entire image was gilded with gold.
Chedi: this temple features an impressive collection of chedis; there are 99 of them. The four most famous chedis are called Phra Maha Chedi of the Four Reigns.
Phra Putthadevapatimakorn: the principle Buddha image is enshrined in the ubosot. It contains Buddha relics and the ashes of King Rama I.
Phra Phuttaloknatsasadajan: this image stands in an alcove behind the wihan. It is the tallest bronze standing Buddha image.
Wihan: there are 12 wihan in Wat Pho, more than in any other temple. There are four Phra Wihan Thit, four Phra Wihan Kod, two Phra Wihan Noi, the Wihan of the Reclining Buddha and a Royal Wihan.
Wasukree Mansion or Poet’s house: this was the residence of Somdet Phra Mahasamanachao Krom Phra Paramanuchitchinoros, one of the finest Rattanakosin era poets.
Wat Pho School of Traditional Medicine and Massage: preparation of herbal medicines and diagnosis are taught here, as well as the traditional massage seen in the sculptures compiled on King Rama III’s orders. The teaching is practical, and every day large number of visitors, Thai and foreign come to study and to be massaged.
Chao Phor Krommaluang Chumporn Shrine: This was moved from Nanglerng Bridge to the Phra Wihan Noi, near the southern gate.
THINGS TO KNOW:
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road (south of Grand Palace)
Tel: 0 2222 1969
Thai Massage School: 0 2221 3686
To get there:
Bus routes 1, 3, 12, 25,44, 47, 53, 60, 82, 91, 501, 508
the temple is just south of the Grand Palace. Nearest pier is Tha Tien.
Open: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm daily
Admission: 50 ฿ per person (foreigner); Free for Thai people
– Dress code must be observed.
– Massage, Thai medicine and herbal therapy courses (7 – 10 days)
– Traditional Thai massage services (200 baht an hour)
-Free English tours are available daily.
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Grand Palace,Wat Arun, National Museum, Museum Siam
A. Thai Thien
B. Tha Chang
C. Tha Prannok
D. Tha Maharat
E. Tha Bangkok Noi