Thai Buddhist temple Wat Suthat.

© Chirapriya Thanakonwirakit/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wat Suthat

Top choice in Banglamphu

Other than being just plain huge and impressive, Wat Suthat also holds the highest royal temple grade. Inside the wí·hăhn (sanctuary for a Buddha sculpture) are intricate Jataka (stories of the Buddha) murals and the 8m-high Phra Si Sakayamuni, Thailand’s largest surviving Sukhothai-period bronze, cast in the former capital of Sukhothai in the 14th century. The ashes of Rama VIII (King Ananda Mahidol; r 1935–46) are contained in the base of the image.

Behind the wí·hăhn, the bòht (ordination hall) is the largest of its kind in the country. To add to its list of ‘largests’, Wat Suthat holds the rank of Rachavoramahavihan, the highest royal temple grade. It also maintains a special place in the national religion because of its association with the Brahman priests who perform important ceremonies, such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May. These priests also perform religious rites at two Hindu shrines near the wát – Devasathan on Th Din So, and the smaller Vishnu Shrine on Th Unakan.

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