Wat Benchamabophit

Buddhist Temple in Thewet & Dusit

You might recognise this temple from the back of the 5B coin. Made of white marble imported from Italy, the distinctive bòht (ordination hall) of Wat Ben, as it's colloquially known, was built in the late 19th century under Rama V. The base of the central Buddha image, a copy of the revered Phra Phuttha Chinnarat in Phitsanulok, northern Thailand, contains his ashes.

The structure is a unique example of modern Thai temple architecture, as is the interior design, which melds Thai features with European influences: the red carpets, the gold-on-white motifs painted repetitively on the walls, the walls painted like stained-glass windows and the royal blue wall behind the central Buddha image are strongly reminiscent of a European palace. It's not all that surprising when you consider how enamoured Rama V was with Europe – just walk across the street to Dusit Palace Park for further evidence.

The courtyard behind the bòht has 53 Buddha images (33 originals and 20 copies) representing every mudra (gesture) and style from Thai history, making this the ideal place to compare Buddhist iconography. If religious imagery isn't your thing, this temple still offers a pleasant stroll beside landscaped canals filled with blooming lotus and Chinese-style footbridges.


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