Wat Bowonniwet is an important, if seldom visited by foreign tourists, temple near to the Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Parts of Wat Bowonniwet are open every day from 06:00 to 18:00 and admission is free.
About Wat Bowonniwet
Wat Bowonniwet is closely connected to Thailand’s Royal Family. Several of the Kings of the Chakri Dynsasty, which is the current Royal Family in Thailand, have lived there as monks and the ashes of King Rama VI and King Rama IX are kept at this temple.
Wat Bowonniwet was built early in the 19th Century as a Royal Temple and its first Abbot, Prince Mongkut, went onto be crowned Rama IV. The temple remains the headquarters of an important sect within the Buddhist church founded by the Thai Royal Family in the 19th Century.
Aside from its important important history and close connection to the Thai Royal Family, Wat Bowonniwet is an interesting and beautiful temple in its own right. Not all of the temple is open to visitors unfortunately and access is infrequently given to the general public to many of the treasures held here. There are residences for members of the Royal Family on the grounds of the temple, for instance, to which public access is never given.
The parts of Wat Bowonniwet which you can visit, however, are very interesting. The main building inside which visitors can go is the ordination hall. The ordination hall hosts a 14th Century gold Buddha statue, the Phra Phuttha Chinasi, which was brought to Bangkok from Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok.
The other major feature of Wat Bowonniwet is its 50 metre high golden chedi tower. The chedi is surrounded by four smaller khmer prangs, which are corn cob shaped towers that feature heavily in the Hindu era temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Cambodia. The chedi itself is hollow and contains 5 smaller chedi each containing holy relics. This internal space is open to visitors once a year on Khao Pansa day, which is the first day of the Buddhist lent period.
There are lots more interesting features at Wat Bowonniwet, for instance the statues of Hindu gods on the pedestal that the massive chedi is built on and the Chinese style buildings at the rear of the temple. Each feature has its own special significance and many relate to the very complex traditions and beliefs of the Thai Royal family. This makes Wat Bowonniwet a must visit temple for anyone with a genuine interest in Thailand’s cultural and religious history.
Location of Wat Bowonniwet
- Wat Bowonniwet is located 10.6 km by road from the Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal.