Wat Phanan Choeng

After touring the ruins of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, the next Wat I visited was the Wat Phanan Choeng. It looked like a modern temple complex. But the truth, which I found so hard to believe, was that it belonged to 14th century. The fourteen meters wide and nineteen meters tall image of seated Buddha, made of mortar, primed with black lacquer and covered with gold leaf was built in 1344. The present form however was attained after many repairs. The last repair was done by Royal Institute in 1929 after the face started developing cracks.

Standing at the base, my jaw dropped wide open seeing the glitter of this majestic huge image. There were men standing in the palm of the statue like Lilliputians (click to enlarge the picture and see). I was lucky to be there then to witness the ritual of merit transfer. Men standing up there were wrapping the statue with saffron robes; there was one man at the shoulder too. The robe was then used to cover the devotees and worshipers sitting down below. One of the priests there was chanting hymns and prayers. After the completion of the ritual, the robes were pulled away gently, folded and kept away for the next session.

If ever you visit this Wat and you find a huge crowd, wait patiently, watch the ritual, it is worth it. I found it the most active temple complex of Ayuthaya, with many devotees inside. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for weekenders from Bangkok.

As I walked around, I saw many many more Buddha images of all sizes. The picture below is of the wall just behind the image which had around 84,000 niches. Each of them housed small idols of Buddha. Devotees make offerings, donations, place their idol of Buddha in the niches and pray for good luck.

Outside there was a small Chinese shrine made in honor of a Chinese princess who died, rather killed herself, because her husband the King of Ayuthaya did not go personally to receive her. I could not visit this because of lack of time and I could not do one more thing, that was buying a bag of fish from the vendors there and release it in the river flowing just beside the Wat. It is supposed to bring in luck.

Ayuthaya requires at least two to three days of stay there if you intend to visit and explore each of the Wats.

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43 Responses

  1. Nice Info…really huge Buddha statue..we are indeed like liliputians in the hand of god.

  2. Carver says:

    What an amazing place. Your photographs and narrative provide a wonderful tour.

  3. The iconography captures a world in itself. Amazing.

  4. Sylvia K says:

    Ah, Indrani! You always take us on the most interesting and magical trips with your beautiful photos! This one is truly amazing and so very colorful!

    Have a great week!


  5. George says:

    The statue of Buddha is absolutely amazing. I don't think I've seen such an impressive statue before. It's hard to believe that this complex is 700 years old!

  6. Snap says:


    I've really enjoyed your Wat posts. Such beautiful places!

  7. Mohan says:

    Awesome! very nice set of pictures along with info on each of those.. Thanks for all the info Indrani 🙂

  8. Martha Z says:

    A beautiful and interesting post. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Rajesh says:


    The temple definitely does not look that old. The image of Buddha is truly magnificent.

  10. subu.ps says:

    Needless to say, superb fotos !!

    The photo of the wall with many budha statues is special. just scroll up and down through that photo and u get an optical illusion that the wall is bulging outwards.

  11. Wolynski says:

    Wow, incredible place and what stunning photos. Really gorgeous.

  12. Japa says:

    Very informative. A great tour of the beautiful place, thanks for sharing.

  13. Ebie says:

    Your photo shows how well they have maintained the Buddha all these years. The 84000 niches is quite interesting!
    This post has brought me to another world of beauty and history.

  14. Maggie May says:

    It is the sheer magnitude of everything that makes you feel very tiny. And it has all been there for so many years before us……… makes you think.
    You always post some interesting an educational posts with lovely images.

    Many thanks for your kind comments on my blog. Much appreciated.

    Nuts in May

  15. LadyFi says:

    Fantastic photos of all the buddhas. Magnificenet and holy and amusing all at the same time.

  16. Anu says:

    really beautiful… but the tiny Buddhas are just great!!!

  17. J says:

    But at least you had time to take lots of photos – luckily. That looks like a fascinating temple, so lively!

  18. magiceye says:

    wow! that was wonderful!!

  19. Anya says:

    It was a wonderful trip …
    thanks for let us see the beauty of Thailand,
    so many buddhas and all decorated
    in orange 🙂
    Have a relaxing day…

  20. I always enjoy your stories and histories, and these images are just astonishing!

  21. Gattina says:

    How interesting ! What a huge buddha statue and these niches, I have never seen that.

  22. YOSEE says:

    Amazed by that picture of liliptan people crawling up the giant statue.Wow !

  23. radha says:

    Very nice pictures of the ritual. The one with the 'lilliputians' is straight out of Gulliver's Travels.

  24. Marites says:

    that's really an impressive place and the Buddha looks beautiful! Nice captures!

  25. eileeninmd says:

    It is an amazing place and an interesting post. Great photos.

  26. Irene says:

    I like your description of the dressing of saffron robe of the Buddha.

  27. Babli says:

    Beautiful description and I liked all the statues of Buddha.

  28. bindu says:

    That sure is a giant statue! Very beautiful, and the saffron color makes it glow!

  29. You went to Thailand! I love visiting the Wats there too. You took some very good shots of the temples and captured the peace and tranquility of the place.

  30. Magnificent Buddha! You've covered the Wat series well, full of great info.

  31. chhabi says:

    Like every time this time also NICE pic,with the blog.

  32. Nessa says:

    The roof makes me think of dragon heads.

    Name That Christmas Song

  33. Kamini says:

    Lovely! I am really enjoying your Thailand series.

  34. Good blog, specially about vultures, i like it.

  35. GMG says:

    Hi Indrani! This is an awesome Wat. Lovely shots!!

    There is a weird bridge waiting for you at Blogtrotter. Enjoy and have a great weekend!!

  36. Hazel says:

    Panan Choeng doesn't look 14th century, does it?

    Once I asked my Thai ex to translate the chants and to my surprise he said he could't because neither he understood it. I searched and found that most chants by monks have a mix of Pali and other ancient languages in them.

  37. Onkar says:

    Very useful info. I liked the colours in the last photograph.

  38. I am going back to Bangkok for a second trip and was wondering what to do – your last few posts made it very clear. I will be visiting Ayuthaya. It sounds like a fascinating place.

    Great post and I will follow your advice and watch the ritual.

  39. Wonderful description that gives the feel of having visited the place.
    The wrap function is similar to honouring dignitaries in big Temples like Tirupati with Sesha Vastram worn by the Lord.
    The similarity with Hindu temples is striking

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