Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (Thai: วัดไชยมังคลาราม ), also written Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram, is the largest Thai Buddhist temple in Penang. It is often called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha of Penang, on account of its magnificent reclining Buddha image housed in the vihara. The image, called the Phra Chaiya Mongkol, measures 33 meters (108 ft) from end to end. It was built in 1958, in conjunction with the 2500th anniversary of the birth of Buddha, at a cost of M$100,000.
The reclining Buddha of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
Although the reclining Buddha of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram is certainly massive, it is not the biggest in the world. Listed below are some other reclining Buddhas in other temples in Asia.
Wat Po, Bangkok, Thailand
Kyaukhtatgyi Buddha, Yangon, Myanmar
Shwethalyaung Buddha, Bago, Myanmar
Wat Phothivihan, Tumpat, Kelantan, Malaysia.
The Buddha image is actually a columbarium housing niches for urns of the cremated. There is a crematorium within the temple complex in addition to the gilded prang (pagoda), another magnificent sight at Wat Chaiyamangkalaram. A small Thai community still live within the complex. There is also a Thai cemetery.
When Francis Light founded Penang, he adopted an open-door policy to make Penang a conducive place for different communities to co-exist. As a result, within George Town are enclaves of diverse communities including the Armenians, Acheenese, Chulia, Malabaris, Burmese as well as the Thai.
The entrance arch of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (7 June, 2009)
A sentinel guarding Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
In 1845, the Thai community sought a piece of land. As a gesture to promote trading relations with Siam, Queen Victoria granted a five-acre piece in Pulau Tikus to them. The land grant was presented by the Governor of Penang, W.L. Butterworth to four women trustees, on 22 July 1845.
Another interesting information about Wat Chaiyamangkalaram was that the first monk was a Theravada Buddhist called Phorthan Kuat, or "Powerful Monk". According to legend, he was very fond of laksa, a local specialty. Today devotees continue to offer bring laksa as offering to his shrine.
Buddha images in various postures at the columbarium of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (7 June, 2009)
A seated Buddha image at Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram is one of the two temples often involved in the staging of Thai festivals such as Loy Krathong and Songkhran.
Going to Wat Chaiyamangkalaram by public transport
Take any bus that passes through Burmah Road or Kelawei Road. From either of these, walk from bus stop to Burmah Lane to reach Wat Chaiyamangkalaram. Buses to take include Rapid Penang 101, 103 and 104. You should also plan a visit to the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple across the road.
The chedi of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram, as viewed from the base (15 February, 2004)
A pavilion at Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
Gold-encrusted monk image at Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (7 June, 2009)
Windows of the main hall of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
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Rapid Penang Bus Routes: This very useful page provides you all the information to take the public bus to visit any place in Penang.
Arriving by plane: Essential information for independent travelers (those not following a tour package) on taking the bus or taxi upon arrival at Penang International Airport.
Taking the Taxi: Taxi stands can be found at all major shopping malls. You can also call a taxi by phone. Get the details here.
Personal Guided Tours of Penang: If you like a licensed tour guide to show you around, get in touch with me and I'll arrange it for you. The fee is RM90 per hour. Payment for the first two hours collected upon booking.
Hospitals in Penang: Penang is a major regional medical tourism destination. If you are planning to come here for therapy or treatment, find out about the various hospitals available.
Shopping malls of Penang: Penang has plenty of malls. Visitors often find that prices in Penang are often lower than back home. Get to know the malls in Penang.
Ernest Zacharevic George Town Murals: The murals by a young Lithuanian artist, created for the 2012 George Town Festivals, has become the biggest tourist attraction in Penang. Get information and a full list of the murals that everybody loves to photograph!