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Related page: Phuttha Monthon Park with some very fine Buddhist Art
Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho certainly is one of the most famous (and beautiful) Temples in Bangkok. It is famous because of its gigantic "reclining" Buddha. This extremely beautiful Buddha is not only impressive because of its size, but certainly also because of its detail. Look at the beauty in its head, for instance, as shown on the right hand side picture above.
Another object of Thai Religious Art are the feet of the Buddha of Wat Pho. As you can see on the picture above, it has been laid in with mother of pearl figures.
The picture above shows you one of the many mother of pearl figures in detail. I did not rotate it on purpose, because this is the way you will see it in Wat Pho. If you want to see it "upside up", you have to turn your head, like you have to do when you are looking at the real thing.
Wat Pho has extensive Temple grounds with -among other things-
a famous massage school (for traditional Thai
massage that is!). You will also see there several of the Chinese style
"Giants", like the one above. Like in several other
Thai Temples, they ask an entrance fee from foreigners. Consider it as
a donation. What you will see is more than worth this small fee.
You can easily walk to Wat Pho from "Tha Chang" (Express Boat Pier), which also is near the Grand Palace. Coming from the other side it is not too far from Pak Klong Talad, the flower and vegetable market.
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This is one of my favorite (meant in a respectful way) Temples in Thailand. It is in Banglampoo (near my tailor). It is also on walking distance form Thewes (pronounced "Thewet") Flower Market.
The most important part of this Temple is outside: Its very large Buddha Image. It is 32 meters high.
The pictures above show you the feet and the head of this really very large Buddha Image. When you are there, please behave respectfully and do not place somebody (to be photographed) upon these feet, and preferably not even with his or her back to the Buddha.
Every Temple has a Temple gate, where you enter the Temple grounds. Many of them are beautiful, some are very beautiful. The one of Wat Indrawiharn has always fascinated me. It shows the Buddha, cutting his hair. You may overlook it, because the Temple grounds start already where you leave Thanon Wisut Kasat (Wisut Kasat Street), to walk (or drive) to the Temple. That is around 100 meters from the large Buddha. Take a moment to look up!
At Wat Indrawiharn I photographed something you will encounter in many Temples all over Thailand. See the left hand side picture: Around many Temples you find people with caged birds, who will ask you to free a bird for some fee. This should give you merit. However, in my humble opinion all these people are impostors, because if the birds will not fly back immediately, because they are accustomed to their cages already, they can - and will - be caught anew easily. So do not think one single bird will ever be freed in this way!
When at Wat Indrawiharn, please also take a look inside the Temple building on the left hand side of the large Buddha (when you are facing it). You will find some very fine murals there. One of them can be seen on the right hand side picture above.
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Wat Benchamabophit (The "Marble Temple")
Wat Benchamabophit is mostly called the "Marble
Temple" by tourists, for obvious reasons: The outside of this
Wat consists of marble. The Thais mostly call this Temple "Wat
Thais shorten many names, even their own. For the same reason they love
to shorten other names.
Hence (for instance) "Wat Ben" instead of "Wat Benchamabophit".
The outside of this Temple is of a great beauty. Walk around it before you go inside. The right hand side picture above was taken while we were walking around this Temple.
While walking around, it is also worthwhile to look up. The
roof of this Temple is typical for the roof of a Thai Temple, and here
in perfect condition.
During your walk in the Temple garden you should also notice some Chinese statues (right hand side picture).
On these pages about Temples in Bangkok you can see several "Cornerstones" of Temples. Normally they are placed in a kind of buildings, surrounding the Temple. The Cornerstones of the "Marble Temple" consist - contrary to every other Temple I have seen so far - of special floor tiles around the Temple. They are easily overlooked! Ask one of the Monks if you can't find them (but approach him respectfully!).
Another feature you should notice in every Temple, is the color of the ceiling. It always is red. The ceiling of the Marble Temple is on the right hand side picture.
When you go inside, you can see one of the finest Buddha
images in Thailand. However, this one is a copy of
the Buddha in Wat Yai in Phitsanuloke, as shown
elsewhere on this site. (Click
here to see it right now!).
Please take your time while looking at this fine Buddha. Underneath it are the ashes of King Rama V (King Chualalongkorn). Also for that reason this Temple is a Holy Place for the Thai people. Remember this when you are there and enter this place respectfully!
Finally take a look at the burial places near Wat Ben: Near the Bhodi tree (left hand side picture) or near a wall, with a Buddha image on top of your grave, in one of the squares (right hand side picture). It must be a privilige to be buried in a place like this!
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