Day 1 of the tour started at around 12 PM. The short ride to Wat Pho area was interesting and we passed the busy streets of Bangkok. Poom shared some insights as we crossed the gold market, flower market and the famously infamous thief market of Bangkok. We decided to grab a quick bite at a local café which went by the name Arom D (Good mood). It was a cozy little place that served great food and was buzzing with people. We ordered some drinks and food and chatted as we ate.
Our next destination was Wat Pho, just opposite the café and besides the Royal Palace. Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan, is famously known as the temple of Reclining Buddha. Named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived, Wat Pho was rebuilt by King Rama I after the Burmese had destroyed the Buddha image from Ayuthaya’s Wat Phra Si Sanphet in 1767. King Rama III restored and enlarged the temple during his rule.
As you enter the temple you see a lot of small Buddha images. These idols are used by people to pray. Poom explained to us that there are different Buddha positions that are worshiped on each day of the week.
One cannot miss noticing the fierce looking sculptures of guards at the temple doors, looking like the nasty soldiers of China’s Terracotta army. To the right is the enclosure where the idol of reclining Buddha is placed. It is 160 ft long and the 3rd largest Buddha idol in Thailand, made in a rich Golden and looks very elegant. The soles of Buddha are marked with images showing the cosmos. The walls have beautiful paintings which depict famous stories and the Thai way of life.
Besides the Buddha idol is a desk where you can get fist-full of coins. There is a series of 108 bronze wishing pots, signifying the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Depending on your luck and how many coins you get, you can ask that many wishes. Poom said this was actually made to keep the kids busy while their parents could pay and to increase their concentration.
As you move out of room you can move to another section of the temple. Here you can notice many Chedis. These were built to keep the ashes of the royal family. A group of four huge chedis, Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn, is very famous; each chedi is 42 meter high and colorfully decorated with tiles. Each of the four Chedis was built to commemorate the reigns of King Rama I to IV of the Chakri Dynasty (current dynasty) and it’s said that the green is for King Rama I, the white is for King Rama II, the yellow is for King Rama III and the dark blue is for King Rama IV.
Towards the right we could notice the Bodhi tree, a sapling of which was brought from the original tree in India. Further inside, there are rooms where many Buddha idols from times immemorial are kept and preserved. Besides these galleries was a bigger room where a beautiful Buddha idol was kept with images of disciples worshiping him.
As one moves along the temple, one can notice many small statues. As the temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, these statues were used by the masseuses to practice their skills. On this note Poom announced our next destination, the famous Chetawan School of Traditional Thai Massage.
This trip to Thailand I just blogged about was courtesy the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).