Wat Benchamabophit

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Ubosot of Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit (full name: Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram Ratchaworawihan , Thai : วัด เบญจมบพิตร ดุสิต วนาราม ราชวรวิหาร , in German: "Temple of the Fifth King") is a Buddhist temple ( Wat ) in the Dusit district of the Thai capital Bangkok . It is also known under the name "Marble Temple". It also becomes a tourist attraction. In 2005, Wat Benchamabophit was proposed to UNESCO for the list of world cultural and natural heritage of humanity .


Wat Benchamabophit was built on the site of an ancient temple. This was quite small and was called Wat Laem ( Thai : วัด แหลม ), which means “headland”, as it stood on a narrow strip of land between the “gardens” and rice fields.

In 1827, during the reign of King Phra Nang Klao (Rama III.) Revolt of Prince Anuwong of Vientiane against the Siamese Kingdom. With a trick he could bring his army safely to Khorat ; the population even provided him with food. He pretended to want to support Siam in a possible war against the Europeans. For this was the time of the First British-Burmese War ; the British government had just sent Captain Henry Burney to Siam to negotiate a treaty. When Prince Anuwong reached Khorat and took the city by surprise, he revealed himself to be a rebel. His plan, he boasted, was to take Bangkok next. King Nang Klao marched an army toward Khorat as defense preparations were made in Bangkok. Scouting posts were set up along the rice fields from Hua Lamphong to Samsen . The defense troops under the command of Prince Bibith Bhogabhubendra, a son of King Phra Phuttaloetla (Rama II) , set up their headquarters in Samsen on the grounds of Wat Laem. Within a few days, however, Anuwong's troops near Khorat were defeated and the rebellion crushed. In gratitude to Wat Laem, Prince Bibith had it restored, and together with four of his brothers he built five chedis in front of the temple, which at that time was still a small village temple. Later King Mongkut (Rama IV.) Gave it the name Wat Benchabophit , which means "Temple of the Five Princes".

In 1898, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) had the idea of ​​building a new royal palace ( Dusit Palace ) with an extensive garden in front of the city in order to spend his weekends there. He bought up an area between the Samsen and Phadung-Krung-Kasem canals , which at that time consisted only of rice fields and orchards. There were two old temples on this site: a dilapidated temple and an orphaned temple in which only a single monk lived. Construction began on February 16, 1899. When it was completed on March 1, 1900, the king named it Suan Dusit ("Heavenly Garden"). As a replacement for the two old temples, the king decided to rebuild Wat Benchabophit, located on the southern edge of the garden area, much larger. As an architect, he appointed his half-brother Prince Narit Ranuvattivongse , who had already made a name for himself as an artist. First kutis were built to house 33 monks and novices - the number of kutis was based on the age of the king at that time. A temporary wooden Uposatha hall was also built to hold the most necessary religious ceremonies. He chose Wat Benchamabophit as the name for this renovated temple : "Temple of the fifth king".

When the kutis were completed, the king invited 33 monks and novices from Wat Mahathat (near the royal palace) to settle here. On December 6, 1900, they went to Wat Benchamabophit in a long procession. The king then gave the temple the title Dusitwanaram , so that the full name was now Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram .

The construction work on the new ubosot was not yet completed when King Chulalongkorn died on October 23, 1910. His ashes were buried by his son King Vajiravudh (Rama VI.) - as he had wished - in the marble plinth of the Phra Phutthachinnarat , the main Buddha statue of the temple.


  • The Uposatha Hall ( Ubosot ) is a structure with a cross-shaped floor plan. The roof is staggered in three steps and covered with rows of golden-yellow glazed Chinese tiles. The last brick in a row on the eaves represents a heavenly angel who, with folded hands, offers the viewer the traditional Thai homage Wai . The outside of the whole building is clad in white Italian Carrara marble, which is why the temple was given the nickname “marble temple”. The Italian architect Mario Tamagno , at the time employed by the building authority of the city of Bangkok, supported Prince Narit with the execution. The gable of the eastern vestibule is supported by four marble columns, at the entrance there are two marble lion statues, which were created by Khun Saphon Pradit based on a design by Prince Narit. The four gable panels are decorated with the symbols of the Chakri kings and Buddhism . The entrance doors are decorated on the outside with reliefs of devas made of chased copper, on the inside of the doors similar deities are painted in gold on black lacquer - using the so-called black gold lacquer technique . The shutters are decorated on the outside with demonic guard figures, also made of copper, and on the inside with the same figures in black and gold lacquer technique. In 1954 the upper half of the windows were replaced with glass windows. These were painted with Thai motifs by Florentine glass painters commissioned by Prince Chula Chakrabongse.
Phra Phutthachinnarat
  • The Phra Phutthachinnarat is the main Buddha statue in the Ubosot. It is a copy of the statue of the same name at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok . It is cast in bronze , 2.5 tons of bronze were used as raw material. The span at knee height is 1.90 m. She sits in the so-called Indian or heroic pose ( virasana ), with the right leg placed over the left. His left hand lies palm up in his lap. His right hand lies on his right knee, the fingers point downwards: This hand position symbolizes the defeat of the demon Mara , in which the Buddha called on the earth as a witness for his path. This hand position is called Bhumisparsa Mudra (literally: touching the earth, Thai: Sadung Mara). In a procession through the canals of Bangkok, the finished statue was brought to the Ubosot in a boat on December 12, 1901, the front of which had been left open for this purpose. The inauguration ceremony was held on December 13, 1901, under the presidency of King Chulalongkorn.
  • The colonnade ( Phra Rabiang ) surrounds a courtyard laid out with square marble slabs, the eastern side of which is formed by the ubosot. The colonnade with the corner pavilions, also laid out with marble slabs, corresponds to that of the Uposatha Hall. It also has a three-tier roof, which is covered with golden yellow tiles.
King Chulalongkorn had made the decision to set up the best stone and bronze Buddha statues that could be found anywhere in the country in the galleries of the colonnade in order to present a complete iconography . He entrusted this task to Prince Damrong Rajanubhab , who in an article in the Siam Society Journal describes how he had collected fifty different statues over the years. To make matters worse, the sculptures should meet three conditions:
  1. all figures should be of artistic value,
  2. all figures should be different,
  3. all figures should be the same size.
So they searched for ancient statues first in the whole country and then abroad and brought them to the temple. However, if a statue was too small or too big, a copy was made in the required size. Many private individuals applied for the production of these copies, who promised themselves many merits for their next life by doing this. The last sculpture was erected in the year of King Chulalongkorn's death.
In this way, the collection of Buddha statues in the walkway of Wat Benchamabophit is representative of the development of religious art in Thailand. Small plaques on the bases of the statues provide explanations of the authenticity and the respective art style. For example, seated Buddhas from the Chiang Saen era can be seen, a striding Buddha, which became the symbol of the Sukhothai style, copies of Japanese Buddhas, and two Buddhas from Bagan and Rangoon .
  • The Bodhi tree ( poplar fig ) stands east of the colonnade. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab had arrived in Bodhgaya on a pilgrimage through India in 1891, where the governor of Gaya presented him with three offshoots of the Bodhi tree there as a gift for the Thai king. On his return to Thailand, these were first planted at the royal summer palace on Koh Sichang near Siracha in the Chonburi province . After a few years they had grown so well that King Chulalongkorn was able to transplant one of the offshoots on August 2, 1900 in Wat Benchamabophit. It can still be viewed here after over 100 years.
  • The canal with three bridges was dug in 1900. It serves to separate Phutthawat and Sangkhawat , the "sacred area" and the living area of ​​the monks. Trees were planted along the canal and twelve Chinese stone sculptures were placed. There are water pavilions ( Sala Nam ) on the bank . Three small bridges of the same design lead across the canal. All three bridges have an ornate, spike-like cast iron grid that is now painted red. The metalwork was carried out in Italy based on a design by Prince Naris. At the top of each grid is a plaque that shows the name and sponsors of that bridge. There is the Saphan Phra Rup , or "Bridge of the Royal Image", the Saphan Thuai , or "Cup Bridge" and the Saphan Nga , the "Ivory Bridge".
  • Other buildings :
    • The Song Phanuat Hall originally stood in the royal palace. It served as accommodation for King Chulalongkorn during his time as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk). It was rebuilt here in Wat Benchamabophit and is now the abbot's kuti . The interior walls are adorned with wall paintings, several of the king's everyday objects are exhibited here.
    • The base of the Bowowong bell tower is clad with marble slabs. The bell itself comes from Wat Bovon Sathan Sutthawas, the temple of the "Front Palace" ( Wang Na ) in which the Vice-King ( Uparat ) resided. (Today the Bangkok National Museum is located on the site of Wang Na .)


  • Damrong Rajanubhab : Wat Benchamabopit and its Collection of Images of the Buddha . Journal of The Siam Society , Vol. 22.1, Bangkok, 1928 ( PDF file )
  • HRH Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, Sulak Sivaraksa (transl.): A History of Buddhist Monuments in Siam . The Siam Society, Bangkok 1962, oh. ISBN

Web links

Commons : Wat Benchamabophit  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 13 ° 45 ′ 59.6 ″  N , 100 ° 30 ′ 50.9 ″  E