Wat Po, or Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajawaramahaviharn as it is officially known is a royal monastery located on a 20 acre site, just South of the Grand Palace. Exploring the site can take some time, as it seems to sprawl on in all directions. Just when you think you’ve finished, you go through another gate and find whole new areas you didn’t know existed!
The many halls and temple rooms house Buddha images, from many styles and eras. The most important in religious/historical terms is ‘Lord Buddha in the posture of concentration’. He sits on a three tier pedestal, and beneath the pedestal are found the ashes of King Rama I of Thailand. Indeed, most of the chedi (the pagoda type structures shown in the first picture were built to contain ashes – in this royal monastery there are 71 of these structures built to contain the ashes of royal descendents.
The reclining Buddha
Although the most important Buddha in religious terms in the one shown above, this is not the image that has made Wat Po famous. For Wat Po houses the "Reclining Buddha", an amazing 46m long (and 15m high) golden Buddha image. Made from stucco covered bricks and concrete covered in gold leaf and with feet inlaid with mother-of-pearl. If you are receiving this in a letter, rather than reading it on the web, you may well get a postcard of the reclining Buddha too!
Of course, there are many other images! Chinese rock pagodas, statues representing massage and health positions and remedies (Wat Po houses a traditional Thai massage school), and many images of Buddha in other poses. As this is all laid out among herb and bonzai collections, in courtyards surrounded by chedis and ornate gateways, with places to sit, and places to get the necessary Diet Coke, it makes a very nice day out and is highly recommended to you all!
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