( Wat Pho) is situated behind the Grand Palace, near the Tha Tien
Pier. It is a large temple originally called Wat Photharam, that
was built during the Ayutthaya Period. King Rama I ordered its complete
restoration in 1789 and installed many Buddha images that were removed
from abandoned temples in other parts of the country.
King Rama III ordered another major
renovation of the temple to make it a center of learning and art.
This took 16 years to complete. Texts from treatises on various
fields of knowledge were inscribed on marble slabs and placed in
pavilions in the temple and stone statues. Wat Pho thus became a
source of knowledge for people of all classes and has therefore
been referred to as Thailand's first university.
Important features of the temple include
phra vihara, phra mondop or the tripitaka tower, and the palace
of a royal poet, Phra Poramanuchit Chinorot.
There are murals in the phra ubosot
depicting scenes from the lives of Buddha that were painted in the
Third Reign. On the window panels are decorated with lai rod nam
designs and inscribed children's lullabies and folk tales, while
on the walls around the phra ubosot there are bas-relief's executed
on marble depicting the Ramakian.
The Phra Buddhasaiyat, or Giant Reclining
Buddha, in the phra vihara for which the temple is famed was constructed
in the Third Reign. On the sole of the foot inlaid in mother of
pearl is the auspicious number 108.
There are also 95 chedi of various
types, the most important being the four chedi of the first four
Kings of the Chakri Dynasty. There are also numerous small and large
stone statues from China.