Lord Buddha

Temple History

Wat Pho also Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, its official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn. The temple is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m long reclining Buddha. The temple was also the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and still houses a school of Thai medicine. It is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple. Wat Pho is one of Bangkok's oldest temples. It existed before Bangkok was established as the capital by King Rama I. It was originally named Wat Photaram or Podharam, from which the name Wat Pho is derived. The name refers the monastery of the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. The older temple is thought to have been built or expanded some time in the reign of King Phetracha (1688–1703) of the Ayuthaya period on an even earlier temple site, but its founder is unknown. After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese, King Taksin moved the capital to Thonburi where he located his palace beside Wat Arun on the opposite side of the river from Wat Pho, and the proximity of Wat Pho to this royal palace elevated it to the status of a wat luang (royal monastery). In 1782, King Rama I moved the capital from Thonburi across the river to Bangkok and built the Grand Palace adjacent to Wat Pho. In 1788, he ordered the construction and renovation at the old temple site of Wat Pho, which had by then become dilapidated. During its construction Rama I also initiated a project to remove Buddha images from abandoned temples in Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, as well other sites in Thailand, and many of these Buddha images were kept at Wat Pho. The rebuilding took over seven years to complete, and 12 years after work began, in 1801, the new temple complex was renamed Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklavas in reference to the vihara of Jetavana, and became the main temple for Rama I. The complex underwent significant changes in the next 260 years, particularly during the reign of Rama III (1824-1851 CE). In 1832, King Rama III began renovating and enlarging the temple complex, a process that took 16 years and seven months to complete. The ground of the temple complex was expanded to 22 acres, and most of the structures in Wat Pho were either built or rebuilt in this period, including the chapel of the reclining Buddha. He also turned the temple complex into a public center of learning by decorating the walls of the buildings with diagrams and inscriptions on various subjects.


Additional Information

Wat Pho is regarded as Thailand’s first university and a center for traditional Thai massage. It served as a medical teaching center in the mid-19th century before the advent of modern medicine, and the temple remains a center for traditional medicine today where a private school for Thai medicine founded in 1957 still operates. Wat Pho was intended to serve as a place of education for the general public. To this end a pictorial encyclopedia was engraved on granite slabs covering eight subject areas, namely history, medicine, health, custom, literature, proverbs, lexicography, and the Buddhist religion. These plaques, inscribed with texts and illustration on medicine, Thai traditional massage, and other subjects, are placed around the temple. for example, within the Sala Rai or satellite open pavilions. Dotted around the complex are 24 small rock gardens (Khao Mor) illustrating rock formations of Thailand, and one, called the Contorting Hermit Hill, contains some statues showing methods of massage and yoga positions. These illustrations and inscriptions in Wat Pho have been registered by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme set up to promote, preserve and propagate the wisdom of the world heritage.

From Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Wat Pho is 33.7 Km, from Bangkok Railway Station it is 5.2 Km. From Krom Raksadin Daeng bus stop Wat Pho is hardly 350 m walk.

SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin Station S6. (Silom Line), Take Exit 2 and go to Chao Phraya River Express Boat Pier.Take boat heading to Tien Pier (N.8) and walk straight to WAT PHO
  • 8.0 am to 6.30 pm
  • Contact Person: Wat Pho Office
  • Contact Number: +66 2 226 0335