Home > Bangkok, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Thailand, Thailand FAM > Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Rattanakosin, Bangkok

Also see: FAM tour of Thailand

Wat Pho (also spelled Wat Po) is a large temple complex in Rattanakosin Island (Also see: Heritage walk of Rattanakosin Island) of Bangkok. It is located just south of the Grand Palace.

Wat Pho 1

Reclining Buddha, Wat Pao, Ratanakosin Island, Bangkok

Wat Pho is popular, or rather wrongly, known as the Temple of Reclining Buddha. Apart from the shrine of Reclining Buddah the complex houses several other shrines including prayers hall, giant chedis (stupas) and galleries housing 1000+ Buddha statues, more than any other temple in Thailand.

Map of Wat Pho (click to enlarge)

Map of Wat Pho (click to enlarge)

Wat Pho, was originally known as Wat Photaram or Podharam and predated Bangkok by at least two centuries. In 1782 King Rama I overpowered King Taksin and ascended the throne as the founder of Rattanakosin dynasty.

Wat Pho 3

The reclining Buddha Temple, Wat Pho

He shifted his capital to Rattanakosin and ordered the construction of the Royal Palace, which was later known as Grand Palace.

In 1788, he ordered the construction and renovation at the old temple site of Wat Pho, which had by then become dilapidated.

Several statues of Buddha were collected from the abandoned Buddhist sites of Thailand, which included Ayutthaya and Sukhothai and were displayed at Wat Pho.

The rebuilding took over seven years to complete. In 1801, twelve years after work began, the new temple complex was renamed Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklavas or simply Wat Pho.

Wat Pho 7

The head of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Ratanakosin Island, Bangkok

In 1832 the Wat Pho temple complex went through a series of renovations and extensions under the patronage of Rama III. The ground of the temple complex was expanded to 22 acres, and most of the structures now present in Wat Pho were either built or rebuilt in this period, including the temple of the reclining Buddha.

Wat Pho 8

A devotee drops coins at the 108 bowls at Wat Pho, Bangkok

The 15 m high and 46 m long golden statue of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana. This is the largest reclining Buddha image in Thailand and possibly the largest in the world.

The figure has a brick core, which was modelled and shaped with plaster, then gilded. The right arm of the Buddha supports the head with tight curls, which rests on two box-pillows richly encrusted with glass mosaics.

The soles of the feet of the Buddha are 3 m high and 4.5 m long, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are each divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified, such as flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers, and altar accessories.

Wat Pho 4

Chedis (Stupas at Wat Pho temple complex, Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok

At the center of each foot is a circle representing a chakra or energy point. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors may drop coins in these bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune, and it also helps the monks to maintain the wat.

Wat Pho 2

Phra Maha Chedi, Wat Pho

Today the Wat Pho temple complex is located just south of the Grand Palace and the complex is divided into two parts separated by the Chetuphon Road.

The southern section is the monks’ quarters, which is out of bounds of tourist. The northern section is open to tourist and is divided into eastern and western parts.

The northern section is surrounded by a high wall punctured by 16 gateways each guarded, on the interior, by two Chinese stone giants. Out of the 16 gateways only two are functional to tourist.

Majority of the tourist enters the Wat Pho complex through the northern gate, which is situated next to the temple of reclining Buddha, located on the western section of the temple complex.

Wat Pho 5

Chinese Stone Giant, Wat Pho gate

The complex is always crowded with tourist and getting a whole photo of the reclining is always difficult and is only possible from the feet side of the statue.

The crowd consists of tourist and devotees alike and the devotees drop coins in the 108 bronze bowls, placed along the wall.

Just outside the Reclining Buddha Temple are the four towering Chedis (stupas) known as Phra Maha Chedi. The four richly decorated chedis tower to a height of 42 m and are dedicated to the first four kings of the Chakri or Rattanakosin Dynasty.

The eastern side consists of Phra Ubosot (Phra Uposatha) or bot, a hall used for performing Buddhist rituals, and the most sacred building of the complex. The hall at the centre houses a golden statue of seated Buddha upon a three-tiered pedestal.

Wat Pho 6

Series of Buddha statues, Wat Pho, Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok

The central building lies on a raised platform and is surrounded by double cloister gallery called the Phra Rabiang, which houses the 1000+ Buddha statues. The double cloister is surrounded by 71 small chedis (stupas) and 24 model hills. Each of the four corners houses 5 chedis (stupas) on a single base.  Finally there are four corner pavilions and a couple of Thai traditional medicine and message pavilions.

Wat Pho 9

Collage of Buddha statues, Wat Pho, Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok

The temple is considered the first public university of Thailand, teaching students in the fields of religion, science, and literature through murals and sculptures. A school for traditional medicine and massage was established at the temple in 1955, and now offers four courses in Thai medicine: Thai pharmacy, Thai medical practice, Thai midwifery, and Thai massage. A relaxing Thai massage is best way to end the Wat Pho tour and is a good way to combine relaxation and understanding Thai culture

Tourist Information:
Entry Fee: 100 baht (about 210 INR) for foreigners. Thais have a free entry
Timing: 08:00 to 17:00
Dress Code: It is a functional Buddhist temple so there is a dress code. Men must wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts. Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.

Note: I visited Thailand as part of a FAM trip organized by Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways.

Special Thanks:

  • Aso Lori (TAT, New Delhi) and Sajid Khan (Thai Airways, Kolkata)
  • My fellow FAM participants Amit Sachdev (Unique Air Travels), Sanjay Kr Kothari (Just Holidays), Vandana Arya (Gainwell Leisure Holidays), Piyush Banerjee (Discovery Holidays), Asif Alim (Neptune Holidays) and Nandini Gangully (T2, The Telegraph)
  1. April 1, 2019 at 12:13 PM

    Very Well Photography

  2. April 1, 2019 at 12:13 PM

    very nice photography

  3. July 24, 2019 at 5:40 PM

    Thank you for sharing this information..
    Wat Po, is a Buddhist temple complex in the Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand. It is located on Rattanakosin Island, directly south of the Grand Palace. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, its official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan.
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