Wat Indra Viharn
Standing Buddha of Wat Indra Viharn
When Ayutthaya was still the capital of Siam, a temple used to stand in the site of Wat Indra Viharn in the early 18th century. When Ayutthaya fell and Bangkok has risen as Thailand’s capital, King Rama I resettled some of the Lao Royal Family in this area. It was for this reason that the village became known as Lao Village. This family rebelled after the fall of Ayutthaya, which is why they were relegated to live in this area. One of the princes was a devoted follower of the Buddha thus adopts the temple and giving its name.
After the prince adopted this temple, the giant statue of Buddha was constructed in 1867. It was not until 60 years later, in 1937, when it was completed. In 1978, some Buddha relics were placed inside the statue. These relics came as gifts from Sri Lanka. In preparation for this Royal City’s celebration, the Buddha was refurbished with gold mosaics imported from Italy. A hidden stairway that is rarely opened can take climbers into the shoulders of this giant statue. From the shoulders, one can see an interesting view of the somewhat sleepy side of Bangkok.
There was a time when the 32 meters (100 foot) tall Buddha of Wat Indrawiharn was visible from any of the higher locations in the old city. When modern buildings were constructed during the 80s and 90s, the Buddha was eclipsed by these tall buildings. The giant Buddha is said to be a rare example of Thai religion. For anyone who has seen the countless Buddha images around Bangkok, this Buddha is not that impressive. The ubosot is a different story, though, it is impressively designed with intricately carved pink sema stones. The inside part of the wall is lined with glass shelves that hold benjarong funeral urns.
The interiors of this upset has cartoons, but beautiful murals of various images of Buddha. Wat Indra Viharn is the site of the annual temple fair for ten days during the month of March. Watching the monks pray as they waive their incense is quite impressive. The huge feet of Buddha are adorned with sprinkles of fresh flowers from those who pray there.
This is not the biggest statue of Buddha even if some claim it to be so. The statue found in Wat Buraphaphiram in Roi Et stands twice as tall as this one. An open lawn can be found in front of this giant Buddha. This provides visitors a good vantage point of looking up to the Buddha which makes them feel its majestic size. The statue is part of the building. Dropping by will not put a dent on the travel budget since entrance is for free.
Shrines to other deities like the Chinese Goddess Kuan Yin and structures that resemble a cave can be found within the temple grounds. Followers of Somdej Acharn Toh can pay homage by visiting this temple. Somdej Acharn Toh lived in this place until he passed away. People come and collect holy water from the well. Somdej amulets are sold for those who are fond of Thai amulets. The amulets are said to bring happiness, power to protect and improve one’s life. Visitors who have been in the temple grounds say this is off the beaten track but is worth the trip.
Somdej Toh is responsible for popularizing the Jinnabunchorn Mantra which is a powerful form of prayer. There are three types of amulets that make up a set and these are: Pim Yai, Pim Sendai and Pim Wat Keichayo. These amulets were venerated by Somdej Toh. The amulets contain Wat Rakhang amulet powder amalgamated with new amulet powder ingredients to create a great powerful house of an amulet. Followers of Somdej Toh are impressed with the powers of these amulets. They are vowed to be effective.
Near the southwest side of this temple you’ll find a bunched of tuk tuks waiting to carry passengers. Try to avoid the a recent scam where those who offer birds as a form of offering to the Buddha are often recaptured and resold to other people. The birds are symbolical of merits given to any devotee. Normally it is sold for about 10 Baht. Avoid offers of gems, suits or other items since this is part of this scam.
Cool guesthouse that offers a cheaper accommodation when visiting the sites of Bangkok can be found near this temple. Bangkok has grown to be one of the most visited cities of the world. It attracts about 16 million visitors a year. One of these is Phra Nakorn Norn Len guesthouse. Standing on the rooftop terrace of this guesthouse will give visitors a great panoramic view which includes Wat Indra Viharn. A fish market on one side of the canal will offer fresh fish to create delicious fish dishes. One of the restaurants here serves the best Chicken Cashew nut dish. This is one of the most recommended dishes when within the vicinity of this temple.
How To Get There
The easiest route to Wat Indra Viharn is by taking a boat ride to Rama VII Bridge or Tewet Piers. From this bridge, walk up the small street to the main street (Samsen Road). Cross the street and take a right turn walking up the road parallel to the ramp (Wisut Kasat Road. The temple’s entrance is on the left side. The other alternative is to take the Tewet Pier, walking from the river proceed to Krung Kasem Road. Walk past Tewet Garden Market. After reaching Sansen Road, turn right. There is a small Thai arch entrance and an alley which will give visitors an idea of how Thai people lived in the past. It is highly recommended to take an exit in the direction towards Wisut Kaset Road, walk along the river. The Bang Khun Phrom Palace stands in this location which is now the offices of Bank of Thailand. It would be nice to maximize this visit to Wat Indra Viharn by killing two birds with one stone so to speak.