Spread out across a 20-acre enclave in the heart of Rattanakosin district near the Grand Palace lies the largest and most ancient temple complex in all of Bangkok, Wat Pho. With an illustrious legacy that stretches back nearly 200 years to the period before Bangkok was Thailand’s capital, this sprawling religious institution is perhaps best known as the venue that contains the monumental golden Buddha statue. Renowned as the temple with the largest reclining Buddha image in the country the temple is also credited with having the most number off Buddha statues in Thailand.
The reclining Buddha statue is Wat Pho’s focal attraction with its mind-blowing size, scale and grandeur in sheer gold. Stretching across 46 meters the 15 meter high statue depicts Lord Buddha in a reclining pose illustrating his ascendance in to nirvana. The eyes of the statue feature mother-of- pearl motifs while the soles of the statues’ feet also contain elaborate mother-of-pearl embellishments denoting the108 auspicious characteristics of a Buddha.
The far reaching temple grounds contain a whopping one thousand Buddha statues in total consisting mostly of images that were extracted from the ruins of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. The expansive complex is divided in to two sections by Chetuphon Road and the northernmost quarter is the area most frequented by visitors. Famed for its large temple hall or “bot” which encloses 394 bronze Buddha statues within its enclave the region outside the bot is another highlight as it contains 152 marble slabs illustrating the latter half of the Ramakian epic. Four “chedis” built in honour of three Chakri monarchs are also found here alongside 91 other chedis of diverse scale. A series of bell towers, rock gardens, statues, chapels and inscriptions are also situated in this section which also houses a stunning library surrounded by porcelain pagodas and figurines.
Visitors should also note that Wat Pho served as the country’s first university in eras long past and was also a centre for traditional Thai massage. The stone walls of the temple are inscribed with age old knowledge on this uniquely indigenous massage technique that dates back to the era of King Rama III.
Travellers on the lookout for 5 Star Hotels in Bangkok will be hard-pressed to find a finer alternative to the Anantara Bangkok Riverside. Sprawled across a resplendent 11-acre property this stylish Bangkok resort offers spa facilities and a selection of 10 restaurants and bars.