Bangkok Reclining Buddha Statue

 

Reclining Buddha Statue In Bangkok Thailand

Few people who visit Thailand and more specifically Bangkok, do not wish to have a glimpse of the big reclining Buddha statue in the city. Often referred to as the Sleeping Buddha statue, the posture in which Lord Buddha is depicted in this famous statue is better described as reclining. So where exactly is the reclining Buddha statue in Bangkok. Wat Pho a temple which is not far from the Grand Palace in Bangkok, houses the world famous reclining Buddha statue. Don't get confused if someone asks you where, the sleeping Buddha statue in Bangkok is - they actually refer to the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.  

A couple of years ago, CNN Travel rated the reclining Buddha statue in Bangkok as one of the top 10 religious statues in the world. It is estimated that around a million visitors make their way to the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok to see the amazing sleeping Buddha statue. Reliable sources confirm that, this statue was initially present in the open within the premises of the temple, the building that houses it was later built around the statue. Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, most people make a trip to this temple when they visit the Grand Palace which is not too far away. Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton, visited Wat Pho and saw the big reclining Buddha statue when they visited Thailand in their official capacities. 

If you ever hear the term Big Sleeping Buddha in Bangkok, it would be quite an understatement because, the reclining (right word) Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok is 'huge' and not just 'big'. Lord Buddha in this statue  is depicted lying on his right side, with head rested on the right hand. The left hand is placed along the left side of his body. This is a well known reclining posture of Buddha - therefore the name Reclining Buddha offers a better description of the famous statue. 

Let's say a few things about the impressive dimensions of this big Buddha statue in Thailand. To begin with, this is not the only reclining statue of Buddha in Thailand but, it is surely the most popular, the most sacred, the most visited and one of the oldest. The statue and Wat Pho where it is actually housed continue to receive significant royal attention. The length of this big Buddha statue is an impressive 43 meters (141 feet). The maximum height of the statue in Wat Pho Bangkok is 15 meters (49 feet). Walk into the place where this statue is kept and it does seem that, it has been squeezed into a tiny space. Reliable records claim that, the statue was first situated in the open within the premises of Wat Pho, the building was later built around it. Getting clear photographs covering significant length of this reclining Buddha statue can be quite challenging due to the limited space but, keep trying and you will succeed. 

The entire sleeping Buddha statue is plated with gold, this does hold some historic interest. In the days when the Burmese plundered and looted ancient Thailand, gold and wealth were the main motivating factors for them to invade the country. Religious monuments including Buddha statues were destroyed to recover gold since, the metal was sometimes used to plate the statues. There are instances in Ayuthaya (Thailand) where, the Burmese burnt and beheaded sacred Buddha statues hoping to find gold hidden in them. Surely this was history and nothing like that, can ever happen today - just a reflection of the past. To get an idea of just how big this sleeping Buddha statue in Thailand is, you can visualize that the feet are around 5 meters long. The soles of the feet hold some very interesting and intricate detail. Inlaid with mother of pearl are 108 important depictions of Buddhism. Don't leave the premises without taking a close look at the artistry on the soles of this spectacular reclining Buddha statue. We have some images of the inlay work on the statue, they are presented in this report. If you wish to take a photograph of the entire foot or feet,  you will need to set up a wide angle lens or shoot at an angle. 

Here are some images of the feet (soles) of the big reclining buddha statue in Wat Pho Thailand. Each image is partially etched on the base, skilled artisans then do a meticulous and amazing job of inlaying the etched portions with mother of pearl. For those of you who are not aware of what mother of pearl means, here is an explanation. The shells of sea dwelling creatures often show a spectacular phenomenon of irridescence, something like a rainbow effect. These shells are carefully sliced into thin sheets and used to create decorative inlay creations. Jewelry, furniture, ornate storage boxes etc are all created with such artistic work. In today's world significant amounts of 'mother of pearl' is synthetic material manufactured by man but, the inlay work seen on the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho is natural - something that needs to be known to be appreciated. Photograph to your hearts content but, never touch or impolitely point to religious statues in Thailand or any other country. While you might not be a very religious minded person, give a thought to those who come with a mind that is keen to worship and respect these places. 

Here is another image of the feet of the Buddha statue, a close up with more detail. Consider the fact that the statue is quite old and you will agree that it has been kept in impressive shape and condition. There is an entrance fee of around 3 to 4 U.S$ to be paid by non-Thai visitors to Wat Pho. Make the payment gracefully as most of that goes towards maintaining this massive historic place. Thai visitors pay nothing to visit the place, some tourists are alarmed at this but in our opinion, it seems quite understandable. It is a good idea to carry a camera of some sort when, you go around in Thailand. The country has some amazing sights to offer, it is an interesting mix of the ancient, the old and modern. Just make sure that you do not make people uneasy by directly photographing them. As far as the big Buddha statue is concerned, take a few dozen images from various points of the room. You can then pick the best ones and post or email them to your friends and family. It is not polite to photograph nuns and monks in a temple unless, it is a very general shot of the premises or room where they are present - for nuns, we would say a definite no. 

Suggestions: Here are some random thoughts about visiting the Wat Pho temple to see the reclining Buddha statue. Give them a read and keep them in mind as you might happen to need some of this information when making the trip. 

  • You can combine a visit to the Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho in the same trip. Tour agents might separate them just to make a bit more money but, the fact is that they can be combined. 
  • Dress appropriately, pants, shirts, trousers to go  well below the knees. No skin tight tops, bare shoulders and breasts, you are not going to review the Grammy or Oscar awards so,  show some sense and class by following basic decency. 
  • Take off your shoes and place them in the place marked for the purpose. In recent times, temples sometimes give you a cloth bag to put your shoes in. You can carry them with you, remember to place the empty bag in the right place once you have come out and worn your footwear. 
  • Don't get disgusting by talking or laughing loudly, there are many places in Thailand for fun and frolic where you can display your merry talent. 
  • Places marked 'No Photographs' imply that you cannot take photographs there. Keep it simple and follow those signs. 
  • The walking distance between the Grand Palace and Wat Pho is not much but, taxis and tuk-tuks can cheat you. This has been going on for decades so, be warned. Temperatures can be very hot in Bangkok, carry a bottle of water and a cap at all times. 
  • If you feel that all this etiquette thing is too much for you, don't try to find short cuts - just avoid going there in the first place.

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