The Wat Mahathat is a large and busy temple in the oldRattanakosin district of Bangkok, just North of the Grand Palace. Its full name is Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit Rajaworamahavihara. The temple is very highly revered; it is one of the six temples of the highest grade of first class Royal temples. The temple enshrines relics of the Buddha.
Ayutthaya era temple
The Wat Mahathat is one of the older temples of Bangkok; it was built during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, before the city of Bangkok was founded in 1782. The temple was then known as the Wat Salak. During the centuries the temple was renovated and raised in class several times. It was later renamed to Wat Mahathat, a name often given to temples containing relics of the Buddha.
Center of Buddhist studies
The Wat Mahathat is an important temple for Buddhist studies, as it houses a well known meditation center and the first Buddhist University in the country, the Maha Chulalongkorn Raja Vidyalaya University where hundreds of monks study the teachings of the Buddha.
Next to the temple, on the other side of Maharat road is a large amulet market. Here you will find a number of stalls selling amulets from very cheap to very expensive.
Structures of the Wat Mahathat
The Wat Mahathat is a busy, crowded complex containing a large number of buildings. Surrounding the temple’s courtyard are the galleries that are lined with a large number of tall Buddha images on very ornately decorated pedestals. The base contains memorials to deceased people whose ashes are interred in niches.
The Wat Mahathat’s ubosot is one of the largest in the country. In this building new monks are ordained into monkhood. The principal Buddha image of the ubosot is gold plated. Other structures include a large viharn, several smaller viharns, amondop, the kuti or monks living quarters, a drum tower and several Khmer style prang towers, with Buddha images enshrined in its niches.
Vipassana meditation center
The Wat Mahathat is home to a well known Vipassana meditation center. Thai as well as foreign students practice Vipassana meditation, also known as “insight meditation”.
This meditation method aims at gaining insight into the true nature of things and the realization of all things being temporary and nothing existing indefinitely. Vipassana meditation concentrates on the process of breathing while trying to dispel thoughts.
Classes are held in both Thai and English language. Daily 3 hour classes are held in English from 7 to 10 am, 1 to 4 pm and 6 to 9 pm. Although classes are free, a suitable donation should be made. The meditation center is located in Section 5 of the Wat Mahathat.