Wat Thepthidaram is a lesser visited Buddhist temple located on the Maha Chai Road in the historic Rattanakosin Island district of Bangkok, a short distance from the more famous Wat Suthat Thepwararam.
Wat Thepthidaram is open to visitors every day from 08:00 to 17:00 and admission to the inside of temple buildings and its museum costs 100 THB for foreign visitors.
About Wat Thepthidaram
Wat Thepthidaram was constructed between 1836 and 1839 under the patronage of King Rama III, who dedicated the temple to his eldest daughter, Princess Kroma Muen Apsomsudathep.
Temple of the Heavenly Daughter
The name of the temple means, roughly translated, the Temple of the Heavenly Daughter. Throughout her life Princess Kroma Muen Apsomsudathep was closely involved with the temple and in particular the patronage of its most famous resident, the poet Sunthon Phu.
Wat Thepthidaram has a number of striking and unusual features which may not be immediately obvious, but which make Wat Thepthidaram well worth visiting.
Chinese and Khmer Architectural Features
Wat Thepthidaram has a number of Chinese architectural features. The exterior of the temple is covered in Chinese porcelain arranged in patterns and there are lots of Chinese statues positioned around the temple grounds. Chinese culture and art was very much in fashion in Thai high society during the reign of King Rama III. More inexplicable are four large Khmer style prang towers which were also built at the temple.
White Buddha at Wat Thepthidaram
You many have heard of the Emerald Buddha, but you most likely of not heard of the White Buddha at Wat Thepthidaram. The White Buddha, carved from white stone, is sat on a magnificent boat shaped pedestal in the temple’s Ordination Hall under a golden ‘mondop’, which is a pyramidal structure common in South East Asian temples. There are white Buddha statues in more modern temples such as Wat Huay Pla Kang in Chiang Rai, but as far as we are aware this is the only white Buddha statue made before the start of the 20th Century.
Statues of Female Monks
Even more unusual than the White Buddha are the statues of 52 female monks at Wat Thepthidaram. The female monks are represented as sat at the feet of the Lord Buddha. In the Prayer Hall, where the 52 statues are located, they are also wall murals of female monks receiving a sermon from the Lord Buddha.
The significance of female monks represented in this way may be lost on people in modern times, but at the time the temple was constructed Thai society, and particularly the Buddhist church, was deeply patriarchal and the religious life of a monk was strictly off limits to women as were many important religious sites.
Sunthon Phu Museum
There is also a museum dedicated to Sunthon Phu at Wat Thepthidaram. Sunthon Phu is widely regarded as the most important literary figure in Thailand who also spent 2 years in the 1840s as an ordained monk at Wat Thepthidaram.
Sunthon Phu wrote a number of very long poems detailing the development of Thailand during the period he lived through the medium of fictional stories and in this respect is considered Thailand’s equivalent of Shakespeare. The museum is located in the room where Sunthon Phu slept and the chambers nearby.
Location of Wat Thepthidaram
- Wat Thepthidaram is located 2 km walking distance from the Erawan House.