is a Buddhist
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...
temple in Phra Nakhon district
Phra Nakhon is one of the 50 districts of Bangkok, Thailand. It is the central district of Bangkok, including the Rattanakosin Island...
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...
. It is located in the Rattanakosin district directly adjacent to the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings in Bangkok, Thailand. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok...
. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
, its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan
( wát pʰráʔ tɕʰêttupʰon wíʔmon maŋkʰalaːraːm râːttɕʰawɔːráʔmahǎːwíʔhǎːn). The temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage
Thai massage is a type of massage in Thai style that involves stretching and deep massage. This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement. No oils are used in Thai massage...
Wat Pho is named after a monastery in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...
where Buddha is believed to have lived. Prior to the temple's founding, the site was a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...
positions. An enormous Buddha image from Ayuthaya's Wat Si Sanaphet was destroyed by Burmeses in 1767, King Rama I (1782-1809 A.D.) incorporated its fragments to build a temple to enlarge and renovate the complex. The complex underwent many changes in the next 260 years. Under King Rama III (1824-1851 A.D.), plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple. These received recognition in the Memory of the World Programme
UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction...
launched by UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...
on February 21, 2008. Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha is a small raised garden, the centrepiece being a bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...
which is a scion
Scion may refer to:*In kinship, a descendant , a son or daughter*Scion , a detached shoot or twig containing buds from a woody plant which is grafted onto the stock...
(cutting) of the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting enlightenment
The English term enlightenment has commonly been used in the western world to translate several Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese and Japanese terms and concepts, especially bodhi, prajna, kensho, satori and buddhahood.-Insight:...
The temple was created as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with the work beginning in 1788. The temple was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III, and was restored again in 1982.
The Temple Complex
Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wat
This article on Thai temple art and architecture discusses Buddhist temples in Thailand. A typical Thai Wat, which is loosely translated as monastery or temple, has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world.-Wat architecture :The architecture of a Wat has seen many changes in...
s in Bangkok (with an area of 50 rai, 80,000 square metres), and is home to more than one thousand Buddha images, as well as one of the largest single Buddha images of 160 ft length: the Reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas, Thai พระพุทธไสยาสน์). The Wat Pho complex consists of two walled compounds bisected by Soi Chetuphon running east–west. The northern walled compound is where the reclining Buddha and massage school are found. The southern walled compound, Tukgawee
, is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school. Outside the temple, the grounds contain 91 chedi
Chedi is an alternative term for a Buddhist stupa, mainly used in Thailand. It may also refer to:* Chedi Kingdom, an early kingdom in India* Chedi, U Thong, a subdistrict of U Thong District, Suphan Buri Province, Thailand...
(stupas or mounds), four vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....
(halls) and a bot
(central shrine). 71 chedis
of smaller size contains the ashes of the royal family, and 21 large ones contain the ashes of Buddha. The four chedis
are dedicated to the four Chakri
Chakri may refer to:* Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, King of Thailand from 1782 to 1809* The Chakri Dynasty, the royal house of Thailand* Chakri , a form of folk music in Kashmir* Chakri , Tollywood music director...
kings. The temple has sixteen gates around the complex guarded by Chinese giants carved out of rocks. These statues were originally imported as ballast on ship trading with China. The outer cloister has images of 400 Buddhas out of the 1200 originally bought by king Rama V. In terms of architecture, these are varied in different styles and postures, but these are evenly mounted on matching gilded pedestals. The main temple is raised in marble platform punctuated by mythological lions in the gateways. The exterior balustrade has around 150 depictions of the epic, Ramaken
, the ultimate message of which is transedence from secular to spiritual dimensions.
The image of reclining Buddha is 50 ft high and 143 ft long with his right arm supporting the head with tight curls on two box-pillows of blue, richly encrusted with glass mosaics. The 10 feet high and 15 feet long foot of Buddha displays are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories. Over the statue is a seven tiered umbrella representing the authority of Thailand. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. People drop coins in these bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune, and to help the monks maintain the wat
. Though the reclining Buddha is not a pilgirmage centre, it remains an object of popular peity.
The temple is considered the first public university of Thailand, teaching students in the fields of religion, science and literatutre through murals and sculptures. In 1962 a school for traditional medicine and massage was established. The temple is home to one of the earliest Thai massage schools. Traditional Thai massage and medicine is taught at the Traditional Medical Practitioners Association Center, an open air hall outside the temple. For Thai massage therapists, the medical inscription inside the temple acts as a base for treatment. There are 60 plaques inscribed, 30 each for the front and back of human body. Therapeutic points and energy pathways known as sen
were engraved and the explanations were carved on the walls next to the plaques. Full research on the diagrams is still not completed - the derivation so far is that the figures represent relationships between anatomical locations and effects produced by treatment at those locations.