One of the most amazing sights in Thailand are the Wats. Not one is alike. The above picture is from a wat in Bangkok that has a decidedly Chinese influence. From the colors and textures to the sounds and smells they all create a very unique experience for the visitor.
Although each temple is different and can range in size from very small to very large they all incorporate the same elements. Each Wat has an one ordinal hall or Ubosot where new monks are ordained and important ceremonies are held. Each Ubosot will have an alter and at least one Buddha image. The Ubosot is surrounded by 8 Sema stones marking the sacred ground of the temple.
Each temple will also have a Vihara housing important Buddha images where the populace comes to pray. There may be several Vihara at a temple.
Each temple will also have a Chedi or Pagoda that usually houses a relic of the Buddha but may also contain the ashes of an imortant monk or king. Each temple will also incorporate a Naga which is a mythical creature said to have sheltered Buddha while he meditated. They can generally be seen in decorations, roof edges and railings. Most people will confuse the Naga for dragons. The Wat eaves are very decorative as well.
Each temple will also have a Sala with is an open sided pavillion used for sermons. Most temples will also have a drum or bell tower to call the faithful to prayer.
Each temple will have a Mondop or library which houses sacred scriptures and images.
Temples are a very important part of Thai life They are a place of worship, community gathering places, as well as places where the departed are cremated. Some Wat’s also have schools, meeting rooms and sporting grounds. When visiting a Wat in Thailand one should be respectful and learn the accepted etiquette as not to offend the Thais.
Thailand’s Wat’s are very beautiful and peaceful places to visit and a must see if you’re planning a trip to the kingdom.