Wat Traimitr Witayaram Worawihan, more commonly known by its shorter name of Wat Traimit, is a popular tourist attraction as well as a functioning Buddhist temple in Bangkok’s China Town, a short distance from the city’s major railway station.
Wat Traimit is open daily from 08:00 to 17:00. Admission to see the main Buddha statue costs 40 THB per person and entrance to the historical displays costs an additional 100 THB per person.
About Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit was a small and unremarkable temple in downtown Bangkok until the mid 1950s. No one is quite sure of when the temple was established and it was not associated with any major events and little reference is made to the temple in any historical texts.
What makes Wat Traimit famous today is that in 1955 the Abbot at the temple discovered that was believed to be a large clay Buddha statue was in fact the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image weighing 5,500 kg and standing 3 metres high. The statue is called the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon.
The origins of the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon statue are matter of speculation. The style of the statue is similar those being cast in Sukhothai during the period when Sukhothai was the most import city in Thailand, which was from 1238 to 1438. The prevailing theory is that the statue was moved from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya during the era when Ayutthaya became the more important city with the ascendancy of a new Thai Royal Dynasty, which lasted from 1350 to 1767. The Ayutthaya Dynsasty came to an abrupt end in 1767 when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and destroyed much of the city. It is during this time that statue is believed to have been covered in clay to protect it from the Burmese invaders.
After the fall of Ayutthaya a new Thai Royal Dynasty was established in Bangkok. The first king of the new dynasty, King Rama I, is known to have ordered that important statues were brought to Bangkok from all over the north of Thailand to protect them from the ongoing threat of being destroyed or removed by the Burmese. It is believed that the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon statue came to Bangkok at that time and was hosted by a series of temples before coming to Wat Traimit in the 1930s. According to local legend the statue was being moved into a new building in 1955 by crane and the chains holding the statue broke. The workmen are reported to have fled the scene fearing the bad luck that would be a consequence of dropping the statue. The temple’s Abbot found the statue in the morning which had cracked revealing the gold underneath.
The Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon statue is now on display in a fantastic four storey ‘mondop’. A mondop is traditional style of temple building with a square base and a pyramidal roof. The mondop at Wat Traimit is one of the largest and grandest mondops in Thailand. The Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon statue resides in a shrine room on the top floor. The second and third levels of the mondop have museum style displays relating to history of Bangkok, the temple and of course the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon statue itself.
Location of Wat Traimit
- Wat Traimit is located 450 metres walking distance from Bangkok Railway Station.