on January 20, 2008
Wat Pho, also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is located next to Bangkok’s Grand Palace, on its southern side. This is Bangkok’s oldest and biggest temple; built in 1688 (before the city’s foundation!) it has ninety-five pagodas and 394 Buddha images, an amount unmatched by any other temple in town.TimingDue to the popularity of the site, it is recommended to visit the religious attractions as early as possible and plan for a relaxing massage afterwards.A Thai WatThai wats follow an archetypal structure. Two surrounding walls separate them from the world. The Buddhavasa or Phutthawat is the area between the walls; it includes the monks’ dormitories, an Hor Rakang (Bell Tower) and Buddha statues along the walls.The Bot or Ubosoth (Ordination Hall) is the name of the sacred building within the inner space, into which only monks enter; it contains a Buddha statue. Nearby is the Viharn (Assembly Hall) which is open to the public and contains the most important Buddha statue in the compound.Completing the inner courtyard is a stuppa or chedi, shaped as a three layers structure. The bottom resembles a turned over rice bowl, the upper layers resemble a folded Buddha garment and his walking stick. Beyond being a metaphor of Buddhist doctrine, chedis sometimes contains relics.The Reclining BuddhaBeyond its impressive statistics, Wat Pho is best known for the Reclining Buddha. If an ideology does not impress, the size of its structures may compensate; this seems to be the case with the Buddha which is forty-six meters long and fifteen meters high. Its soles are decorated with 108 Lakshanas or auspicious signs inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The graceful Bot at the compound centre has attractive teak doors showing stories from the Ramayana and decorated with mother-of-pearl.Open EncyclopediaIn 1832, the king ordered to decorate the walls with diagrams on history, literature, astrology, medicine and animal husbandry and transformed thus the temple into an open encyclopedia. As time passed by, the institution began specializing and nowadays it is famous for its Thai Traditional Massage School, which is considered to be the best in the country.MassagesThe school offers massages, practical courses and it is still a center for traditional medicine. The massages include body massage, body massage with herbs, and foot massage, and cost around six dollars per hour; the establishment is open daily between 8am until 5pm. The courses offered are Thai massage, therapeutic and healing massage and foot massage; more information can be obtained at phone 2211-2974 or at the premises. Thai massage is very different from other forms of massage and is based on the twisting and bending of every limb in somewhat unconventional ways. Slightly scaring at the first time, it provides a wonderful relaxation and is able to heal light mechanical problems after a trek or other strenuous physical activity.
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