Thai History: A short history of Wat Pho Bangkok

Wat Pho: Home of the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho is Thailand’s largest and oldest temple complex. It is one of the six temples that have been rated ‘first class Royal temples’ for their magnificence. Many temples in Thailand contain depictions of the Buddha and many of these are positioned in unique stances.

The Reclining Buddha

The Reclining Buddha is the version of the religious leader to be found at Wat Pho, and the statute’s beauty, size and impact can hardly be described in mere words! The statue should be visited and admired. It stretches an amazing 46 metres, with the Buddha depicted as though lying down, with his upright head propped up on one arm. The other arm rests on top of his body, while his face is tranquil and peaceful, eyes half-closed in relaxation. The Reclining Buddha provides a sense of peace, simply when one sees it, but the temple complex has much more to it than the immense gold statue.

First Public Education Site

The temple is home to many other images and depictions of the Buddha, and is widely celebrated as being one of the country’s first public educational centre is a title it has held since the reign of King Rama III in the seventeenth century. King Rama III decorated the walls of the temple with images, writings and instructions in a number of subjects, including religion, science and literature, so those who came into the temple could not fail to see them and learn from them.

Massage Headquarters

The principles of education continue, even today, and the temple is home to the headquarters for traditional Thai medicine which includes massage to restore the body and invigorate the senses again at the mandate of King Rama III who was concerned that traditional skills and knowledge might be lost without his intervention.

Wat Pho temple complex is a fascinating and moving place to visit: a symbol of the wisdom and history of Thailand. The site is well worth visiting: it tends to be fairly quiet as the Great Palace, just a ten-minute walk away tends to overshadow the temple. So if you would like to learn more about modern Thai practices, the rich history of the land, and marvel at an immense but welcoming statue, Wat Pho is the place for you.

Diego Delso / CC BY-SA


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