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Nakhon Pathom

Nakhon Pathom

Phra Pathom Chedi and Phuttamonthon

Phra Pathon Chedi, the largest Stupa in Thailand, is located in the province of Nakorn Pathom. The Stupa is 120.45 meters high, i.e. it is about the same height as St. Paul Cathedral in London. The current Phra Pathom Chedi, which covers the old one, dates from the time of King Ramas IV, while the old one was probably two thousand years old. Wat Phra Pathom Chedi is one of the six royal temples of the highest rank in Thailand.

History

The ancient Pathom Chedi was discovered by Prince Mongkut in the time of Ramas III, when he made a pilgrimage to Nakorn Pathom as a monk. Here he found an old stupa 81 meters high in the form of an upside-down bowl with a tapered “Prang”. However, this old Stupa was only renovated in 1853 after Prince Mongkut had climbed the Tron. The renovation took a total of 17 years. Many archaeologists claim that the old stupa – due to its shape – is stylistically similar to the “Maha Chedi Sanchi” in India, which was built in the time of King Asoke the Great of India (3rd century – 2nd century BC). When King Asoke sent his religious missionary, Phra Sona Thera and Phra Uttara Thera to the “Golden Land”, the Stupa was built. However, the exact date of origin remains in the dark. The name “Phra Pathom Chedi” came from King Rama IV and means “the first Stupa built in Thailand”

Things to see

The large Stupa is the main attraction of the temple, surrounded by a round gallery and four Vihan in the north, south, east and west. The Stupa is 120.45 meters high and 233.50 meters wide under the base, which is supported by a balustrade. Above the second layer there is the lotus leaf base, the bell, the throne and the smaller rings on top. At the top there is a “nopasul” together with an honorary crown, which represents the royal emblem of Rama IV. The four main Vihan stand around the Stupa on four sides. Vihan Luang in the East, the South Vihan, the West Vihan and the North Vihan

  • Vihan Luang contains two chambers. The outer chamber contains a Buddha statue in an enlightened position. The inner chamber shows paintings of the rough stupa, angels, hermits, Garuda, Naga, etc., which are gathered to worship the Phra Pathom Chedi. The pictures are by a painter, Phra Ya Anusat Chitrakorn, who lived during the reign of Rama VI.
  • The South Vihan in turn consists of two chambers. In the outer chamber there is a statue of Buddha showing a sermon to his first five students. The inner chamber contains another seated Buddha statue under the protection of the five-headed Naga.
  • The West Vihan, a reclining Buddha statue in the outer chamber of this Vihan and another statue in the position of entering Nirvana are kept in the inner Vihan. The last mentioned Buddha statue is surrounded by his three fellowers.
  • The North Vihan is on the same side as the main entrance to the temple. Inside there is a large standing Buddha statue called “Phra Ruang Rotchanarit, which was discovered by Crown Prince Vachiravut (Rama VI) in Sri Sachanalai. After the restoration in Bangkok, the statue was taken to the temple of Phra Pathom Chedi.
  • The gallery of both the Phra Pathom Chedi and its portal are round. On the inner side of the gallery there are inscriptions with Buddhist teachings in Pali. The outside of the gallery is filled with 66 statues of Buddha in various positions.
  • The Bot is on the south side of the large Stupa. It was built in the time of Ramas VII on the site of the old building from the time of Ramas IV. The architect was Prince Narit. The bot shows a simple style without extravagant decoration. On each of the four marked secreted stones (sema)  is the image of the “Thao Jatulokabal”, the four spirits who watch over the human world. The main Dvaravadi-style Buddha statue in the Bot made of white stone. It depicts Buddha while he is preaching. Other Buddha statues can be seen in the corridor at the stairs west of the large stupa. There are a total of four Buddha statues of this shape in Thailand. The third can be found in the Chao Sam Phra Ya National Museum in Ayutthaya; but it is made of green and not white stone.
Phuttamonthon

Phuttamonthon is currently considered the largest Buddhist site in Thailand. It is set on 1,000 acres and extends over four districts in Nakorn Pathom Province.

History of origin

The idea of ​​making Phuttamonthon the largest Buddhist city in Thailand already existed at the time of Prime Minister Field Marshal Pibulsongkram, but was rejected by parliament. However, this plan was accepted during the celebration at the beginning of the 25th Buddhist century. Later, on July 29, 1955, King Bhumibol laid the foundation stone for the main Buddha statue. Construction slowed down because most of the financial support was missing. In 1978 the Phuttamonthon project received further funding from the government of Prime Minister general Kriengsak Chamanan. The Phuttamonthon as such contains the following sights.

  1. The main Buddha statue
  2. The residence of the Supreme Patriach
  3. Four monuments representing four Buddhist holy places  
  4. The Central Library for Buddhism
  5. A Buddhist museum
  6. A Buddhist rite auditorium
  7. A small ordination hall
  8. A park where important Buddhist trees are planted.

The main Buddha statue was designed by Professor Silpa Bhirasi in 1955 and was not made until 1981. The statue, 17.358 meters high, has a striding position. It was called “Phra Si Sakaya Thosaponyan” by King Rama IX  and is considered the largest bronze statue in the Bangkok period.