Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, or Wat Bowon in short, is an important royal temple since the early 19th century. It was built in the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851) and completed by King Rama IV. In the old day, this temple is located within the old city wall on the north-east side of Ratanakosin island, or you may have already known it as Banglumphu district.
As day goes by, this area has now become thriving commercial district of Bangkok for over a decade. There are lots of shops and stalls selling foods, garments and accessories throughout the area. Moreover, it is a very popular destination for backpackers since this is the area where Khao San road is located.
Just a few step from Khao San Road, Wat Bowonniwet Vihara will be on your right. As there was a strong Chinese architectural influence during the reign of King Rama III and modern architectural concept of western was introduced in the reign of King Rama IV, the ordination hall (Ubosot) and other buildings in this temple were built with a well-balanced Thai, Western and Chinese architectural styles. For example, the gable is decorated with glazed ceramics, both doors are decorated with carved and gilded Chinese doorkeeper - Xiao Gang.
Phra Buddha Chinasi and Phra Buddha Suwankaet
Thailand's respectable Buddha images
When you enter through the main gate, you will suddenly find the ordination hall. The ordination hall houses a two beautiful bronze Buddha's image, Phra Buddha Chinasi and Phra Buddha Suwankaet, which are Thailand's most revered Buddha statues. The inner walls of the hall are full of beautiful mural paintings depicting several Buddhist stories during the beginning of the Rattanakosin dynasty. It was the first time that perspective drawing of western style was used by Thai painters.
Golden Pagoda of Wat Bowonniwet temple (https://commons.wikimedia.org)
Behind the Ubosot, there is the Rama V era golden chedi. It is a bell-shaped chedi in Ayutthaya style. The chedi houses Phra Pairee Pinas, a well-known Buddha figure in Thailand, which was found whilst restoring the temple of Wat Boworn.
Another interesting sight inside Wat Bowon is The Museum and library of Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara which shows the history of this temple and praises all former abbots of this temple, some of whom were Thailand's Supreme Patriarchs, for their tremendously contributions towards the development of Buddhism and the nation. This museum is open to public Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., free entrance.
Wat Bowonniwet Library & Museum
The temple’s layout was very well-planned by sacred temple buildings and monks’ living quarters are separated by a wall and a small canal. When crossing a bridge to another side, you will see many Phra Tamnak residences, which are residences for royal family or high ranking Buddhist monks. These buildings were built by order of the kings of Thailand, which are Phra Tamnak Panya, Phra Tamnak Phet, Phra Tamnak Lang and Phra Tamnak Chan. They have different styles of architecture since they were built in different period of time. You will have a great chance to see the modern movement of architecture in Thailand through the centuries.
Wat Bowon is not a usual tourist itinerary. While walking around the temple, you will find that the atmosphere is peaceful. It is a nice escape from hustle and bustle of the city. The temple is open daily from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Please remember to dress politely and keep quiet when entering a temple or every religious shrine.