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Wat Pho: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the most significant and fascinating places in Bangkok, Thailand. This temple is renowned for its majestic statue of the Reclining Buddha, as well as being an important center of religious traditions and learning. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture and wonders of Wat Pho.

The History of Wat Pho

The history of Wat Pho, whose original name is Wat Phodharam, dates back to the period when Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam during the reign of King Phetracha.

During the reign of King Rama I (who ascended the throne in 1782), a royal decree was issued to move the contents of the royal libraries, along with statues and sacred manuscripts, to Bangkok. Along with this move, Rama I decided to restore the old temple.

One of the most significant periods in the history of Wat Pho was the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851). During this period, the temple underwent extensive restoration and expansion that transformed it into the complex we see today.

The Reclining Buddha

The main attraction of Wat Pho is the gigantic statue of the Reclining Buddha, which measures 46 meters long and 15 meters high. This majestic statue is completely covered in gold leaf and represents the Buddha at the moment of death and passage to Nirvana. Visitors can admire the intricate details of the statue, including the 108 inscriptions on the feet, which represent the characteristics of a perfect Buddha.

Reclining Buddha new Wat Pho in Bangkok

This statue, also known as “Phra Buddha Saiyas,” has a history dating back to 1832 when Rama III had it created as part of this Wat Pho renovation project.

The hand resting under the head indicates the rest and serenity of the dying Buddha. This position was chosen to represent his transition to Nirvana, emphasizing peace and liberation from the eternal cycle of suffering.

Adorned with precise and significant details, the Reclining Buddha statue showcases remarkable craftsmanship. Its feet bear engravings of mother-of-pearl gems, symbolizing individual attributes of Buddha. The 108 hallmarks of a Buddha, referred to as “Laksana,” were meticulously crafted from mother-of-pearl or copper.These signs, according to Buddhist tradition, were characteristics of the true Buddha.

View of the Reclining Buddha and his feet

Many visitors stop in front of the statue of the Reclining Buddha to reflect and meditate on its wisdom and serenity. The statue embodies the importance of meditation and soul searching in Buddhism. It is a place of contemplation and soul searching for the faithful and visitors.

The Wat Pho Massage School

Wat Pho’s massage school, known as “Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School”, is one of the oldest massage schools in Thailand and has a history dating back over 60 years. Founded in 1955, it was established with the aim of preserving and promoting the traditional art of Thai massage.

Thai massage, known as “Nuad Boran” in Thai, is a therapeutic art that uses a combination of stretching, pressure and rhythmic movements to improve physical and mental well-being. This ancient practice is rooted in Buddhist philosophy and aims to restore energetic balance in the body.

Wat Pho’s massage school offers training courses to both Thais and foreign visitors interested in learning the art of Thai massage. Students can choose from a variety of courses, from basic to advanced training. During the course, students learn traditional massage techniques, the anatomy of the human body and the philosophy behind Thai massage.

The Wat Pho massage school has been instrumental in preserving and promoting this traditional Thai art. Thai massage has become popular around the world, and many people visit the Wat Pho massage school to learn its authentic techniques. In this way, the school helps to spread Thai culture and tradition throughout the world.

In addition to the art of massage, the Wat Pho school offers its students an in-depth understanding of Thai culture and Buddhist philosophy. Students learn to respect the human body and treat patients with kindness and compassion.

In conclusion, Wat Pho is much more than just a temple. It is a place steeped in history and culture, a center of learning and a testament to Thai art and spirituality. Its majestic statue of the Reclining Buddha and architectural beauty make it an unmissable stop for those visiting Bangkok and wanting to immerse themselves in the country’s rich history.