Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple complex in the Phra Nakhon District of Bangkok, Thailand. Directly south of the Grand Palace it is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The name refers the monastery of the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.
This temple is number one on the list of six temples in Thailand that are classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. King Rama I rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined as well as three other Kings. Later it was expanded and renovated by Rama III. Wat Pho has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the 150 feet (46 meter) long reclining Buddha.
The image of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. The posture of the image is referred to as sihasaiyas, the posture of a sleeping or reclining lion. It’s 15 m high and 46 m long making it one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand. The figure has a brick core, which was modelled and shaped with plaster, then gilded.
The soles of the feet of the Buddha are 3 m high and 4.5 m long inlaid with mother-of-pearl. At the center of each foot is a circle representing a chakra or energy point. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor behind the Buddha that represent the 108 characters of Buddha. Visitors sometimes drop coins in these bowls to bring good fortune and it also helps the monks to maintain the wat.
The temple is considered to be the earliest center for public education in Thailand, marble illustrations and inscriptions placed in the temple for public instructions has been recognized by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme. It also contains a school of Thai medicine and is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, still taught and practiced at the temple.
An annual celebration for the reclining Buddha is held around the time of the Siamese Songkran or New Year in April, which also helps raise funds for the upkeep of Wat Pho.