Phra Pathom Chedi (stupa) is located in Nakhon Pathom, one of the oldest cities in Thailand, about 50km North West of Bangkok. Nakhon Pathom means "the first city" in Pali language. When you come to the city, you are not able to miss the Phra Pathom Chedi. The very impressive and 127 meters high chedi with its orange roof can be seen from everywhere of the city. It is the largest stupa in the world. The Phra Pathom Chedi Temple is one of the six Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan and contains the ashes of King Rama VI.
Meaning "Holy chedi of the beginning", Phra Pathom Chedi is considered the oldest Buddhist structure in Thailand. Its history chased back to around the two thousand years ago when Buddhism was introduced into Thailand. During that period, the Indian emperor decided to spread Buddhism and sent the monks out to many parts of Asia including Thailand. The archaeologists also think that the original structure was built there in the 4th century by order of emperor Ashoka as the chedi was imitated the Grand Stupa of Sanchi in central of India, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the relics from the Buddha which brought by the monks from India were enshrined in the Phra Pathom chedi.
With the local river changed its flow, the land progressed more towards the south, then the local inhabitants moved east to the nearby town Nakhon Chai Si. Eventually, the city of Nakhon Pathom was abandoned and overgrown by jungle. Only after King Mongkut (Rama IV) visited the remains of the temple and ordered to restored the Phra Pathom chedi in the first half of the 19th century, the city became inhabited once again.
Restoration of the chedi
When Rama IV still was the prince, he spent many years travelling in the country as a monk. He visited the chedi many times and during that period, the chedi was in a very bad situation in the overgrown jungle. After he ascended the throne in 1851, he commanded to restore the Phra Pathom Chedi. He enlarged the original smaller one by covered a much larger chedi and it took about 17 years to complete the construction of the chedi. There is a base of 233 meters is a courtyard with four viharns and each viharns contains Buddha images in different postures.
The northern viharn houses a large gilt standing Buddha image named Phra Ruang Rodjanarith. The gesture of the Buddha is dispelling the fear. The image was once badly damaged and only the head, hands and feet were in good condition. It was discovered by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) when he still was crown prince. He ordered to cast it in Bangkok and installed in the viharn in 1915. The King Rama VI's ashes are installed in the base of the statue. A large Reclining Buddha image is installed in another viharn.
You will find a number of bells that you can ring for good fortune and a lot of Buddha images in various postures when you walk around the chedi through the courtyard.
Visitors can see interesting display of artifacts, Buddhist relics and stone carvings excavated in the ruins of Nakhon Pathom and some of them can be dated back as far as the Dvaravati era in the Wat Phra Pathom Chedi Museum and the National Museum of Phra Pathom Chedi.
Beside the chedi is a large market selling Buddhist amulets. You will find lots of stalls selling all kinds of original Thai food as well.
How to get to the Phra Pathom Chedi
The chedi is located in the city center of Nakhon Pathom which is easily and quickly founded. It is just little over one kilometer south east to the train station. Visitors can take train from Bangkok and there are multiple daily train services from Hualamphong station. It takes about 1.5 hours to get Nakhon Pathom by train.
Visit also can take a bus from Bangkok's southern bus terminal. It takes about one hour to get the city. A van from Victory Monument in downtown Bangkok can take you directly to the chedi.
Of course, taking a private car from Bangkok arranged by UME travel is most comfortable and safety way to go.
The temple opens daily from 7:00am to 8:00pm.
The museum opens daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm except Monday and Tuesday.
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