Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is home to more Buddha images than any other Bangkok temple and it shelters the largest Buddha in Thailand.
Wat Pho was built as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with work beginning in 1788. It was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III (1824-51), and restored again in 1982. Wat Pho is the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Even prior to the temple’s founding, the site was a center of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga positions.
During the Rama III restoration plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple, while in 1962 a school for traditional medicine and massage was established. The Wat Pho complex consists of two walled compounds, bisected north-south by Sanamchai Road running east-west. The northern walled compound is where the reclining Buddha and massage school are found. The southern walled compound, Tukgawee, is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school. Wat Pho is the largest and oldest wat in Bangkok and is home to more than 1,000 Buddha images, more than any other temple in the country. It also shelters the largest Buddha image in Thailand: the Reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas). Created as part of Rama III’s restoration (1824-51), the Reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. His body is covered in gold plating and he is decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay on his eyes and the soles of his feet. The bottoms of the Buddha’s feet are intricately decorated with 108 auspicious scenes in Chinese and Indian styles.