We all have seen many statues and sculptures of Buddha and even today, his sayings are inspiring people all over the world. Most famous statue of Buddha is in the reclining posture and there are a lot of them around the world in temples, parks and other places. One of them and probably, the most popular statue is situated in Wat Pho temple of Bangkok. Wat pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Phra Nakhon district and a popular place for visitors in Bangkok. It houses more than 1,000 Buddha images which is more than any other Wat in Thailand. It is one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha which measures 46 metres long and 15 metres tall, covered in gold leaf. It is so large; it feels like it has been squeezed into the building. Its feet are 5 metres long and inlaid with mother of pearl. The gesture of Seated Buddha, on a three tiered pedestal, is called Phra Pang Smardhi.
Over the statue of the Reclining Buddha, there are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. You can drop coins in these bowls which is believed to bring good fortune. However, before entering the temple you will have to follow the dress code. As per the code you cannot wear too much revealing clothes like mini skirts and tight clothes.
How to get here?
Wat Pho is located in the old Rattanakosin area on the East Bank of the Chao Phraya River adjoining the Grand Palace on Thanon Chetuphon. You can get there by metered taxi or by Chao Phraya express river boat. It is very short walk from Tha Tien pier.
There was a temple, Wat Phodharam, on the same site which was restored as Wat Pho temple with work beginning in 1788. It was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III and restored again in 1982. The traditional Thai Massage got started at Wat Pho for the first time. Even prior to the Temple’s founding, the site was a center of education for traditional Thai medicine and statues were created showing yoga positions. In 1962, a school for traditional medicine and massage was established and it is still running. You can book massage appointments or apply to study at school.
The statue of Reclining Buddha was built in 1832 during the reign of King Rama III. It was made to show the passing of Buddha from his final Nirvana after death. Murals can be found inside the temple which dates scenes from as far as during the rule of King Rama III.
The Wat Pho Tour
Once you enter the temple you have to keep calm and be polite as the temple is a sacred place where religious rites and activities are done. Women are prohibited from all area set aside for monks to perform their rites. The Wat Pho Complex has two walled compounds bisected by Soi Chetuphon running east-west. The northern compound is where the reclining Buddha and Massage school is. The southern walled compound, Tukgawee, is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school.
The statue is going to hit you with its size just when you enter the room where it is laying. At the foot of the reclining Buddha, you can find over 100 panels which display symbols by which Buddha can be identified like White Elephants, tigers, flowers and many more. The coins gathered in the bowls help the monks to maintain the temple.
Phra Vihara is the assembly hall in which Reclining Buddha is situated. It lies on the Northwest within the monastic area of Wat Pho. On its northern wall there is a piece of empty stone in a frame decorated with beautiful designs. It was prepared to record the history of the construction of Phra Vihara. Anyway, it is still blank.
There are some murals located on the interior wall which illustrate the tales of Etadagga in Buddhism relating to most distinguished disciples, 10 Upasaka and Upasika who were male and female devotees. Murals on the doors and windows, tell the story of Mahavong, which was the history of Buddhism and the Singhalese King in Ceylon. The murals, on the secondary beam placed below the main roof tell about the heaven at Tavatimsa and battle between Thevada and Asura. There are many other murals on all the walls of the assembly hall which tell stories and sagas about Buddhism.
The Massage centre and school
The massage school at Wat Pho offers to everybody who is interested in studying the art of Thai therapeutic massage. It is a 200 hours course comprising 32 hours of theoretical study about health, science and traditional medicine, 82 hours of Thai therapeutic massage and advanced Thai ascetic self stretching and 86 hours of professional training. You can get there and increase your awareness about different kind of massages.
If you wish to get a massage, you can choose from Thai Combo Massage, Reflexology, Deep Tissue or Swedish, Traditional Thai Massage, Body Scrub & 1 hour Swedish, Foot Scrub, Body Scrub, Aromatherapy and even get a haircut. A regular massage costs around 250 baht an hours while a herbal hot compress massage costs 350 baht an hour. Thai traditional massage course can be complete in 10 to 15 days for about 4500 baht.
Wat Pho is one of the most visited attractions in Bangkok and the Reclining Buddha is the main attraction here. So, plan a trip and see this giant Reclining Buddha.