Wat Pho, the official name being Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn
, is a first grade royal monastery, regarded as the most important one during the
reign of King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty. The importance of this is due to the
King having managed the restoration of Wat Phodharam, an old monastery from the Ayudhya
period, and had it re-established as a royal monastery located near the Grand Palace.
Some ashes of King Rama I were also kept under the pedestal of the principal Buddha
image known as Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn in the main chapel.
The monastery is located on an area of 20 acres to the south of the Grand Palace,
with Thai Wang road in the north, Sanam Chai road in the east, Setthakan road in
the south and Maharat road in the west. Separated by a tall white wall on Chetuphon
road, the monastery has two main quarters : the sacred ( or a chapel section - Buddhavas
) and the residential ( or the monk's living section - Sangghavas ).
It is said in a stone inscription that, after moving to the Grand Palace, King Phra
Buddha Yod Fa The Great (King Rama I) recognized that there were two old temples
along both sides of the Grand Palace : Wat Salak (Wat Mahatart) in the north, and
Wat Phodharam in the south. He ordered his noblemen from the department of the Ten
Crafts to restore Wat Phodharam in 1788. This first restoration took 7 years 5 months
and 28 days. Then there was a celebration in 1801 and the Royal named it Wat Phra
Chetuphon Vimolmangklavas, which was changed to Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm
during the reign of King Rama IV.
The great restoration, having taken 16 years and 7 months, was done during the reign
of King Rama III, by extending both the South Vihara and West Vihara where the large
reclining Buddha image is kept, the Missakawan Park, Phra Mondob (Library Hall) and
teaching-learning hall as they are of today. Although there was another restoration
before the Bangkok Bicentennial Celebration in 1982, no other major work has been
done on the monastery, except for some minor repairs