Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Viharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit - Ayutthaya

Viharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit (Thai: วิหารพระมงคลบพิตร) is located on the City Island within Ayutthaya Historical Park and situated south of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Grand Palace. It hosts a huge Buddha image, harking back to the 15th century. The image was restored many times and is highly regarded by the Buddhist visitors.
Phra Mongkhon Bophit (Thai: พระมงคลบพิตร) or the “Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious Reverence” was sculpted in 1538 in the reign of King Chairacha (r. 1534-1547) at Wat Chi Chiang Sai. 1538 is generally accepted as the year that the image was built, based on the Luang Prasoet version of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya (Most of the other versions put its construction at 880 of the Chulasakkarat era or somehow 20 years earlier).
As at the beginning of the reign of King Songtham (r. 1610/1611-1628), Wat Chi Chiang laid in ruins, hit by lightening, the king had the large bronze cast Buddha image moved westwards and had a mandapa (mondop or square roofed structure) built over the structure to house it. Although the timing of the move of the Buddha image Phra Mongkhon Bopit can be discussed.
The vihara and the image were badly destroyed by fire during the fall of Ayutthaya in April 1767. The roof of the vihara was damaged and the head and the right arm of the image were broken.
Restoration of the Buddha image - in which the broken head and right arm were repaired by Phraya Boran Rachathanin - took place in 1920 (reign of King Rama VI). In 1931 another restoration took place with the financial support of Khunying Amares Sombat.
During restoration works on the statue in 1955, a quantity of Buddha images were found on the left shoulder of Phra Mongkhon Bophit. These images can now be seen at the Chao Sam Phraya National museum.
The Prime Minister of Burma on official visit in Ayutthaya in 1956 gave a donation for the restoration of the vihara. The vihara was finalised in 1957, but not with the same beautiful craftsmanship of the former one. The statue of Phra Mongkhon Bophit was covered with gold leaf in 1992 by the “Mongkhon Bophit Foundation” in celebration of the 60th birthday of H.M. Queen Sirikit.
Phra Mongkhon Bophit is one of the largest bronze Buddha images in Thailand with its measures of (approx.) 9.5 meters across the lap and a height of 12.5 meters (without the pedestal). The Buddha image is seated in the position of Subduing Mara.

Source: http://www.ayutthaya-history.com
Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Wihan_Phra_Mongkhon_Bophit


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