Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit

A giant, ancient seated Buddha

Photo of Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit, , Ayutthaya

What we say: 3.5 stars

This large wiharn is built in typical Thai temple style and contains Phra Mongkhon Bophit, one of the most important Buddha images in Thailand and a highlight for Buddhists visiting Ayutthaya.

The massive bronze seated Buddha is 12.45 metres high, not including the base, and sits 9.55 metres across at the lap. It marks what was the official cremation ground for the Thai royal family from 1612 to 1767.

During the rule of King Phra Chao Sua in 1706, lightning struck the building that housed the image, knocking part of the Buddha's head off -- perhaps a bad omen that hinted at what the Burmese would later do to countless Buddha heads around Ayutthaya. A restoration took place during the reign of King Borommakot but the image was badly damaged again during the 1767 Burmese attack and the mondop that housed it was totally destroyed save a couple of partial pillars and brick platform.

The image and what was left of the old wiharn sat ruined and would have looked similar to many of Ayutthaya's other ruins until a fresh restoration began in the 1920s, beginning with a recrafting of the Buddha's head and shoulder. Over the coming decades a new wiharn was erected to house the image, effectively covering up all of the original ruins. In 1955, a collection of ancient Buddha images were found in the left shoulder and these can be viewed in Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The restoration was completed in 1990 when Thailand's current queen funded a project to cover the image in gold.

Today, the wiharn is a great place to see Thai Buddhism in practice -- a steady stream of visitors offer incense, candles and flowers to the image while asking the Buddha for guidance and for wishes to be granted. Afterwards, the local custom is to shake out a numbered stick from a jar and read the accompanying fortune to see if those wishes will come true.

More details
Sri Sanphet Road
Opening Hours: Daily 08:00-17:00
How to get there: The temple is located right next to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet.
Last updated: 27th November, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit
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