Wat Pho

26

Nov
2021

Wat Pho

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Officially known as Wat Phra Chetuphon, Wat Pho is not only Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple but also Thailand’s foremost center for public education. Unlike the Grand Palace, it has a lively and lived-in dilapidated grandeur. In the 1780s Rama I rebuilt the original 16th-century temple on this site and enlarged the complex. In 1832 Rama III built the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha, housing the stunning image, and turned the temple into a place of learning. Today Wat Pho is a traditional medicine center, of which the famous Institute of Massage is a part. Nearby on Chetuphon Road is the temple monastery, home to some 300 monks.

Medicine Pavilion

Embedded in the inner walls of this pavilion are stone plaques showing massage points. The pavilion is now a souvenir shop.

Reclining Buddha

This 150-ft (46-m) long image fills the whole wihan.

Feet of the Reclining Buddha

The striking, intricate mother-of-pearl images on the soles of the feet of the gilded plaster and brick Reclining Buddha represent the 108 lakshanas, which are the auspicious signs of the true Buddha.

Bodhi Tree

It is said that this grew from a cutting of the tree under which the Buddha meditated in India.

Ceramic Decoration

This porcelain design is on the Phra Si Sanphet Chedi.

Main Bot

Wat Pho’s bot houses a bronze meditating Buddha image salvaged from Ayutthaya by Rama I’s brother. Scenes from the Ramakien are carved into the outer base and inner doors.

Miniature Mountains

This tiny stone mountain by the southern wihan is one of several within the complex. The statues of naked hermits are posed in the different positions of healing massage.

Traditional Massage

Since the 1960s Wat Pho has run the most respected massage school in the city. Traditional Thai massage (nuat paen boran) supposedly dates from the time of the Buddha and is related to Chinese acupuncture and Indian yoga. The highly trained masseurs at the wat specialize in pulling and stretching the limbs and torso to relieve various ailments ranging from general tension to viruses. Visitors can experience a massage or learn the art through a 10- or 15-day course in Thai or English.

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