Phitsanulok Wats - Temples


Wat Nang Phaya

Wat Nang Phaya is located on a small traffic island between Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana in Phitsanulok. I just realized this on a second visit to Phitsanulok as the guide books I used were somewhat confusing. Besides some old chedi's behind the Ubosot one can see Phra Nang Phaya Ruenkaew, a beautiful Sukhothai-style image, which resembles Phra Buddha Chinnarat from the temple across the street. It is also known for it's special “Phra Nang Phaya” votive tablets with the form of a 3-headed naga decorated on their eaves. On my third visit to Phitsanulok in December 2004 I was able to photograph many more details in Wat Nang Phaya, specially the beautiful interior. Compared with the busy Wat Mahathat across the street this is a very peaceful place!

Aranyik Temple (Wat Aranyik)

This is a Sukhothai-era temple located in the same vicinity which is surrounded by moats.

Chedi Yot Thong Temple (Wat Chedi Yot Thong)

Located on Phaya Suea Road, outside Phitsanulok walls, Wat Chedi Yot Thong is the only temple in the province that has a lotus bud-shaped Chedi in the original Sukhothai style.

Chula Mani Temple (Wat Chula Mani)

Located approximately 5 kilometers from town on the east bank of Nan river, Wat Chula Mani is the oldest temple in town. It was built prior to the Sukhothai era and was once the spot where the original town was located. Wat Chula Mani is a temple with long history. King Borom Trailokanat of Ayutthaya and 2,000 of his followers were ordained as monks at this temple in 1416. The Khmer-style pagoda attracts students and archaeologists to explore the beautiful, intricate swan design. Moreover, the Mondop contains a Holy Footprint and an inscription stone built by King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya.

Nang Phaya Temple (Wat Nang Phaya)

Situated near Wat Ratburana is Wat Nang Phaya which believed to have been built during the same period. The temple is famous for extensive collection of the highly coveted Nang Phaya (small Buddha images used as amulets) which was found underneath.

Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Temple (Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat)

Locally dubbed as "Wat Yai", the complex is considered the most important temple in Phitsanulok. Housing Thailand's famous Phra Phutthachinnarat, Wat Yai is located at the foot of Naresuan Bridge on the city side of the river. The temple was built during the reign of Phra Maha Thamma Racha I (Phraya Lithai) in 1357.

Phra Phutthachinnarat is considered the most beautiful Buddha image in Thailand. The large Sukhothai-style bronze statue was cast in 1357 by the order of King Maha Thamma Racha I of Sukhothai. The statues unique feature is the flame-like halo a symbol of spiritual radiance. In 1931, King Ekatotsarot (King Naresuan's younger brother) commanded a gold coating of the image, making it outstanding against the dark backdrop.

Today, thousands of visitors, both Thais and foreigners, flock to Wat Yai just to get a glimpse of Phra Phutthachinnarat. Most of contemporary Buddha images are cast using Phra Phutthachinnarat as a model. There is even a saying that, your trip to Phitsanulok is not complete without visiting Wat Yai to pay respect to Phra Phutthachinnarat. Only the Emerald Buddha situated in the Grand Palace, Bangkok, is more highly respected by Thais. A celebration to honour the statue is held annually in late January.

Other outstanding features of the temple (vihan in Thai) include the large pearl-inlaid wooden doors, the gateway to see Phra Phutthachinnarat. The doors were completed in 1756 by Ayutthaya's royal craftsmen. Inside the vihan are the Italian marble floor, two painted pulpits (thammas) placed to one side, and murals illustrating the life of the Lord Buddha.

Apart from Phra Buddha Chinnarat, there are other Buddha images worth seeing. Phra Attharot, a standing Buddha statue cast in same period as Phra Phutthachinnarat, is situated in front of the large Phra Prang (pagoda) behind the Viharn.

A 36-metre high Phra Prang was built in the early Ayutthaya style. There are staircases leading up to the place where relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined.

There is also a small museum, which exhibits a good collection of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya-era Buddha images and related religious items that is worth visiting. Visitors are advised to dress conservatively.

Wat Phra Si Mahathat Woramahawihan is open daily between 6.30 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. The Phra Phutthachinnarat National Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday, between 9.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. The museum is closed on public holidays, for more information, click Thailand Museum.

Ratburana Temple (Wat Ratburana)

South of Wat Phra Si Mahathat is Wat Ratburana, another main attraction worth visiting. The temple was built at the command of King Borom Trailokanat of Ayutthaya who played a major role in fostering Buddhism in the Kingdom. The temple features a three-headed Naga (mythical serpent in Buddhism) over its eaves.

Wat Ratchakhiri Hiranyaram

The hilltop temple houses two Buddha’s footprints, one is a replica and the other is on the face of a western cliff. A celebration is held annually in February. The temple also houses a thousand-handed Guan Yin statue, three tons in weight, from Hangzhou, China, which was carved out of white jade and sent here in 1992. On the mountain, there is a pond that never runs dry since ancient time. Uphill from the Guan Yin statue, there is a shrine of Heng Jia, the monkey hero, which is frequented by Thai Chinese visitors. The topmost viewpoint of the mountain is the location of Phra Mahathat Chedi Si Bowon Chinarat where the Buddha’s forehead bone relic is enshrined. The Chedi has a lotus-shaped spire, with a walking Buddha image on each side of its square base.