The 9 Wonders of Wat Pho: Nocturnal tour offers interesting slant
Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklaram, better known as Wat Pho ('Temple of the Reclining Buddha') among foreign visitors to the kingdom, has always been a magnet for tourists, who flock to the temple to appreciate its awe-inspiring architecture and magnificent collections of precious cultural artifacts.

But now it's possible to experience the temple – which is one of Bangkok's oldest - amid a somewhat different ambiance following the launch of a nighttime mini light-and-sound presentation.

The showcase, staged by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) from now through early April 2009, offers visitors the chance to enjoy a cultural discovery otherwise unavailable during daylight hours. The light-and-sound presentation features English-speaking guides who lead guests through the temple's treasures as part of a one-hour walking tour.

Writer :Mr.Chanok, Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

Steeped in history
The tour begins in the hall that houses the temple's 46-meter-long Reclining Buddha image, which is widely thought to be the most beautiful example in the country. Even the soles of the Reclining Buddha's feet will impress visitors as they feature 108 auspicious symbols inlaid with Mother of Pearl.

From here, visitors head for the North Pavilion, which houses a library featuring inscriptions relating to traditional Thai massage. Drawings demonstrate massage techniques that have been passed down through the temple's world-renowned massage school. These inscriptions form part of the temple's cultural treasures, which have earned it World Heritage status from the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). Considered to be “documentary heritage of exception value”, Unesco added this treasure trove of knowledge to its Memory of the World register.

Among the body of knowledge stored at the historic site are references to Buddhism, ethnology, history pertaining to the temple, poems and proverbs, rules and governance, Thai literature, traditional medicine, as well as Thai traditions in general.

Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

Varied forms
Various mediums are utilized to transmit information, such as paintings and stone inscriptions, which can be found on the walls of the site's cloisters, halls, pavilions, pillars and ubosot (main shrine hall). Interesting statues of hermits striking various poses can be spotted among the gardens located within the temple compound.

Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

Nearby, a walkway leads to the compound of the temple's Mondop (Scripture Hall). The walls along the way feature murals depicting Thai legends and stories relating to the Ramayana (an ancient Sanskrit epic), and the life of the Lord Buddha. The pavilions on either side of the Mondop house beautifully-crafted artifacts considered to be of great artistic value. These were created as forms of offerings to pay homage to the Lord Buddha.

Along the route stand large Chinese stone figures, which were once used as ballast on cargo ships. Many of these stand guard in pairs at various gates. Examples include ladies, lions, monks, noblemen and soldiers.

Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

If the guide challenges you to located a statue of Marco Polo, look out for a statue of a man sporting a beard, dressed in western-style clothing.

A solid sense of security
Giant statues dressed in traditional Thai costume can be seen standing guard around the entrances to the Mondop's outer compound. Legend has it that there was once a huge fight between the giants of Wat Pho and those found at Wat Arun ('The Temple of Dawn') on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya River. This epic battle is said to be responsible for an area of land adjacent to Wat Pho being razed to the ground. This area is now known as Tha Tien, which literally means “torn down to the ground”. Tha Tien was once one of the most important commercial areas during the early history of the Thai capital.

The temple's ubosot is one location you simply cannot miss. It houses Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn – one of the country's most revered Buddha images, along with some impressive murals.

Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

Many Buddhist worshipers report that paying homage to a Buddha image at night provides them with a different sense of spiritual tranquility. This mini light and sound presentation provides ample opportunity for worshipers to try this out for themselves.

Date : 27-11-2008 12:13:12

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