Wat Chayamangkalaram and the Temple of Dhammikarma

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by phileasfogg on February 22, 2004

All our guidebooks recommended Wat Chayamangkalaram - and it wasn’t too far from where we were staying, so we decided to take a walk and check it out. Wat Chayamangkalaram is a Thai Buddhist temple which is home to one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world. It was built on a piece of land especially donated by the British Crown in 1845, by the then Governor of Penang, Butterworth.

The temple, a traditional Thai shrine, is typical of Thai architecture - elegantly soaring, curved roofs, lots of gold paint, and plenty of ornamentation. It’s all pretty flamboyant - gold paint covers much of the building - and the inside is in the form of a long, high hall, in which the statue of the Buddha lies on its side. The Reclining Buddha is big, but that’s about it. Personally, I found it rather unattractive - the white paint on it looks like fresh emulsion. Beneath and behind the Reclining Buddha are hundreds of small recesses in the wall, each containing a ceramic urn filled with the ashes of a devotee - whose photo is pasted in front of the urn. More than a wee bit spooky.

All around, on the walls of the temple, are paintings depicting scenes from mythology; above them, the entire wall is covered with a three-dimensional pattern with tiny golden Buddhas seated in the centre of each pattern.

All in all, I didn’t like Wat Chayamangkalaram that much - it’s not as beautiful as what lies opposite, at any rate. Across the road is a temple which definitely beats this one as far as beauty’s concerned - it’s the Burmese Buddhist Temple of Dhammikarma - truly stunning. A golden spire soars up on one side; and prettily curving, ornately carved golden roofs top the temple. Inside, a tall golden Buddha towers benevolently over the quiet hall, the inside of which is richly decorated with heavily carved and polished teak and gold - quite spectacular. The combined effect, of gold and teak, is rich, yet not gaudy. This is one place I’d recommend seeing, even though it isn’t as famous as Wat Chayamangkalaram.

Wat Chayamangkalaram
Lorong Burmah
Penang, Malaysia, 10250
+60 4 261 6663 (Pena


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