Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (GPS: 5.43165, 100.31389) 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.
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.
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.
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.
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram is one of the Thai Buddhist temples in Penang involved in the staging of Thai festivals such as Loy Krathong and Songkhran.
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram, Penang (15 February, 2004)
The reclining Buddha of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
The entrance arch of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (7 June, 2009)
A sentinel guarding Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
Buddha images in various postures at the columbarium of Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (7 June, 2009)
A seated Buddha image at Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (15 February, 2004)
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)
Going to Wat Chaiyamangkalaram by public transport
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