Wat Pathum Wanaram ("Lotus Temple") is a royal temple of the third class near Siam Paragon shopping mall in central Bangkok. The temple was originally constructed on the site of Sra Pathum Palace, a residence of King Rama IV surrounded by lotus ponds. Built in honor of Queen Thepsirintra and completed in 1857, the king named the temple Pathumwanaram. It is also called Wat Sra Pathum or Wat Sra. In 1972, a fire destroyed the murals in the ordination hall (ubosot) and they were subsequently replaced. A major renovation of the temple was completed late in 2011.
On May 19, 2010, during the government's crackdown on red-shirt protesters, six civilians were shot dead in the grounds of Wat Pathum, apparently from the elevated skytrain track above the main road. It has not yet been established exactly who did the shooting.
Enshrined in the narrow ubosot is the principal Buddha image known as Phra Sai, brought from Vientiane, Laos, during the reign of King Rama III. The colorful murals in this hall feature giant lotuses and a royal barge procession to the lotus pond. The two Buddha images enshrined in the assembly hall (wihan), also from Laos, are known as Phra Soem (seated inside an enclosure) and Phra Saen (in front). Dating from the Fourth Reign, murals in the wihan are divided into two sections. A royal barge procession flows along the upper section. Below are scenes from the story of Thailand's folk hero, Sri Thanonchai. Door panels depict nagas in human form as they emerge from a lotus pond.
Behind the main temple compound is the large Sala Phra Rachasattha (pavillion) where sacred relics are enshrined, and a peaceful green area surrounding statues of the Buddha and various Hindu deities. This area is used for walking meditation.
The temple is about 200 meters east of Siam BTS station on the north side of the main road.
Updated: March 6, 2012.
Copyright © Craig Emmott 2009. All rights reserved.