Photo by Diego Delso – Wikimedia

Top 10 Incredible Facts about the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Thailand


Wat Pho is also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon is a Buddhist temple found behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.

It is one of the largest temple complexes and even more because of the gigantic reclining Buddha.

This is one of the most visited temples in Bangkok its main attraction being the illustrious Reclining Buddha. The statue is 15 metres tall and 46 metres long.

Its feet, which are 5 metres wide, have been decorated in beautiful Buddhist illustrations. Featured on it is the number 108 which is significant in Buddhism.

This number symbolizes positive actions that lead Buddha to perfection. Surrounding the massive statue are more than 1000 images of Buddha.

Here are more incredible facts about the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

1. King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty ashes are kept in the temple of the Reclining Buddha

Photo sourced from Wikimedia

The Temple of the Reclining Buddha was built in 1788 by King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty. His ashes are preserved in the ordination hall of the temple.

The temple was renovated after the original temple was dilapidated and had been used by the Ayudha kingdom. He made the temple bigger than the original building.

In 1688, the temple was demolished by King Phetracha after the barricade of Bangkok.  

After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, the new king moved the capital to Thonburi. This was where the new residence of King Taskin was found.

2. The Reclining Buddha is the largest in the whole of Thailand

Photo by Wolfgang Holzem – Wikimedia

The main attraction of this temple is the Reclining Buddha that was built in 1848. This is the largest Buddha in Thailand.

This statue is 15 metres tall, 46 metres long and its feet are 5 metres long. The posture of the Buddha is known as sihasaiyas. It is the posture of a sleeping or reclining lion.

There is also a Bodhi tree that is found in the temple. It is believed that the Buddha became enlightened while sitting under it.

Other religious objects found in the temple include golden structures, marble interiors, and Buddha images.

3. Education in Thailand started from the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

The temple of the Reclining Buddha is considered the earliest centre for public education in Thailand.

There are marble illustrations and inscriptions placed in the temple for public information. They specialized in literature, religion and science.

These illustrations have been recognised by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme.

In this temple is the school of Thai medicine which is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. The massage is still taught and offered at the temple.

Several tourists who visit the temple get a traditional Thai massage to relax their sore feet and tired shoulders.

4. The architecture of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is unique

Photo by Yahel – Wikimedia

This temple is a testament to a collage of architecture. Its design is unique. The architecture of this temple borrowed designs known as Rattanakosin Style.

One unique feature is the roof of the temple which has polished tiles with different shades of orange and green.

The pillars of the temple have mosaic designs on them as well as shimmering marbles. These beautiful designs were created in the 18th century.

Another interesting architectural piece in the temple is the altar holding the Emerald Buddha. This altar is elevated above the ground and has several decorative pieces around it.

Most of the structures in this temple were brought from the temple town of Ayutthaya.

5. The Temple of the Reclining Buddha has been known by a different name

The official name of the temple of the Reclining Buddha is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchawaworamahawihan.

The name refers to the monastery of the Bodhi tree where the Buddha got enlightened.

Locals have shortened it to Wat Pho and that is the name tourists use too. This temple is located close to the river Chao Phraya.

6. There are beautiful Buddha statues at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Photo by Diego Delso – Wikimedia

The main attraction in this beautiful temple is the Reclining Buddha. However, there is more to see in this temple.

There are several ornate Buddha statues that are found here. One of them is the Phra Buddha Lokanat. This statue’s posture is in the original Sukhothai style.

One will also get to see about 150 statues inside the temple. Other than these, there are 244 Buddha statues on the outside of the temple that is beautiful.

Most tourists take advantage of this and take photos with the statues in the background.

Another attraction is the Phra Buddha Chinnasri statue which was gotten by King Rama I from the city of Lopburi.

7. Several people get their massage at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Photo by Kasithorn- Wikimedia

Other than visiting the holy temple to see the giant golden statue, tourists and locals that come here seek a traditional Thai treat.

The temple is known for its Thai and herbal massages that have their roots here. The technique uses a good understanding of energy pathways and other therapeutic points in the body.

While the massage is not the gentlest and relaxing, one gets to relieve stress and have improved blood circulation.

They use yoga style postures, some of which may be awkward or uncomfortable. There is usually a long queue for the massage.

8. This temple has had several renovation works

The rebuilding of the temple under King Rama I took over seven years to complete.

In 1801, twelve years after construction work had started, the temple complex was renamed Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklavas.

It went through several other renovations especially during the reign of Rama III. He is credited with enlarging the temple complex. This took him 16 years to complete.

Rama III also expanded the floor of the temple and turned the temple into a public centre for learning.

He commissioned to have the walls decorated with diagrams and inscriptions of different subjects.

9. There are other sacred buildings in the Temple of the Reclining Buddha’s compound

Photo sourced from Wikimedia

The Phra Ubosot is the ordination hall that was used for performing Buddhist rituals. This is considered to be the most sacred building of the complex.

It was commissioned by King Rama I in the Ayuthaya style. King Rama III later enlarged it in the Rattanakosin-style. This building was dedicated in 1791.

Inside the hall is a gold and crystal three-tiered pedestal topped with a gilded Buddha.

The Buddha is made of a gold-copper alloy and above it is a nine-tiered umbrella signifying the authority of Thailand.

Outside the hall are 150 depictions in stone of the epic, Ramakien. The stone panels were recovered from a temple in Ayuthaya and brought here by Rama III.

10. Only the Thai King can change the costume of the Reclining Buddha

The body of the Reclining Buddha is draped over with a golden coloured cloak. This cloak is intricately decked to increase the charm of the idol.

One rule about the statue is that the only person who can touch it is the Thai King and his Crown Prince.

The statue’s cloak is changed three times a year according to the Thai season of hot, cool, and wet.

This ritual is led by the king and is believed to bring good fortune to the country. He cleans and wipes off any dust on the statue while chanting a prayer.

After changing the costume, they keep the other two in a display where tourists can see.