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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for Things to See at Wat Suthat – Exploring a Royal Temple of the Highest Degree
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to See at Wat Suthat – Exploring a Royal Temple of the Highest Degree

Two things that are synonymous with Thailand would be royalty and Buddhism. Wat Suthat is a very interesting amalgamation of both of these attributes of Thailand, and an essential experience.

1

Background

This temple was built by King Rama I soon after his coronation. This king is famous for being the founder of the Chakri dynasty, so this particular temple is something quite significant. The main statue of the Buddha within this temple was apparently brought via river from Sukothai and upon its arrival, was greeted with seven days of festivities. The statue was also ceremoniously paraded through the streets to its custom-built wihan. As a show of respect, the king himself walked barefoot along with the procession, and supposedly staggered to the temple due to exhaustion from the parade.

2

The Buddha Statue

Obviously the most significant attribute, and the first thing you're bound to notice upon visiting the temple, would be the massive bronze Buddha Statue. Although the temple was built during the 1800s, the statue is far older, and is believed to have been built in the 13th century. The height of the statue is quite remarkable, as it stands more than 25ft feet tall. The ashes of the King Rama VII can be found at the base of the statue.

3

The Wall Paintings

Many would tell you that the wall paintings within this temple are probably the most significant and extensive of their kind to be found in the entire nation, and cover more 27,000 square feet of wall-space. These were commissioned by Rama II, but were so intricate that their completion only took place during the reign of the subsequent king, Rama III. These wall paintings are considered particularly significant because of their unique style, which is different to contemporary Thai tradition and seems to have been stylistically influenced by western concepts. The paintings follow the narrative of the Jataka Tales, which showcase the lives of Lord Buddha during the twenty-four incarnations prior to Siddhartha Gautama.

4

The Cloisters Surrounding the Wihan

There are many large and tranquil enclosures situated around the wihan that contains the statue. There are more than a 150 Buddhist statues adorning the outer walls of these cloisters, and make a truly grand and awe-inspiring sight. Although many of the statues are in varying states of disrepair, exploring these cloisters is highly recommended due to their interesting concept. Each of these statues have been 'adopted' by a sponsor in the name of a loved one who has been, or in some cases will be, interred there upon their passing.

5

Chinese Pagodas

Last but definitely not least would be the many Chinese pagodas that are found eclipsing the cloisters. These pagodas are captivating, and what's even more interesting is what you will find within them. Within the pagodas are many bronze statues depicting Chinese soldiers, with some on horseback. The purpose of the statues is largely unclear, but many believe that were used as ballast, and were transported on rice boats during the reign of King Rama I. If you're staying at many a luxury resort in Koh Samui to be found here, such as Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort you should definitely consider visiting the temple.