Wat Phanan Choeng is famous for its enormous seated Buddha image, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country. According to legend tears shed from the eyes of the image just before the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767.
The temple is located on the banks of the Pa Sak river opposite the South East tip of the historical island. From a river boat you will have great views of the monastery, that also has a boat landing.
19 Meter tall Buddha image
The temple’s main attraction is its huge image of the Buddha. The brick and mortar image named Phra Chao Phanan Choeng is seated in the posture of subduing Mara, otherwise known as Calling the Earth to witness.
The richly gilded U Thong style image is also known as Luang Pho To. It is flanked by two disciples in adoration, Sariputta and Moggallana, who were the Buddha’s closes disciples.
The image was built in 1324, several decades before Ayutthaya was founded. After its completion the image stood outside, as the viharn had not been built yet.
Today the Phra Chao Phanan Choeng is enshrined in a large assembly hall, the Viharn Phra Phanan Choeng. Its walls are lined with hundreds of niches containing small images of the Buddha.
The story of Princess Soi Dok Mak
According to legend Phra Chao Sai Nam Phung, a King who ruled before the founding of Ayutthaya, wanted to marry the daughter of a Chinese emperor.
When the Princess named Soi Dok Mak arrived by boat the King was not there to welcome her. After having waited in vain a long time for the King’s return, the Princess was so sad that she killed herself by holding her breath. When the King finally returned he was stricken with grief and built the Wat Phanan Choeng on the spot where she was cremated.
The ubosot or ordination hall enshrines three very old Buddha images seated on a raised pedestal. All three are in the subduing Mara or Calling the Earth to witness posture. The central one measuring over 2½ meters tall is gilded. The ubosot’s walls are adorned with murals.
Chinese building & Lady Soi Dok Mak shrine
Near the river bank stands a small, colorful Chinese temple adorned with dragons. Fearsome Chinese warriors guard its entrance.
Two buildings are joined together. The ground floor of the building in the back is dedicated to Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of mercy who is often depicted with many arms. It is said that she has a thousand arms enabling her to help a great number of people at the time.
The top floor contains the shrine for Lady Soi Dok Mak with a statue of the Chinese Princess for whom the temple was built.
Wat Phanan Choeng opens daily from 8 am until 5 pm.
Entrance fee is 20 Baht.