Luang Paw Dam, Vihara Geng & Vihara Pra Sasada

Going further south, you will exit the area of the chedi via a small gateway adorned with two Chinese lions, and arrive at a group of buildings built in a Chinese/Thai style, situated on a raised base. Directly on your right [assuming you used the route outlined above], is a building known as Viharn Geng. Located within the eastern portico-like edifice of is a beautiful golden Buddha (see photo above), officially known as Phra Dighayumahamongol, but affectionately referred to as “Luang Paw Dam” ( Venerable Black Father). Black refers to the color the image used to be until the time it was gilded some years ago. This image is a copy of the Phra Sri Sasada, which is currently housed next door, in the Viharn Phra Sasada. The cremains of H.H. Somdet Phra Sangharaj Chao Krom Luang Vajiranyanavongse (MR Chuen Nopavongse), the fourth abbot, are interred underneath the image.

In a room directly behind the’ Venerable Black Father’ image, is the room containing the ‘personal Buddha images’ for the first three abbots: 1) Pra Buddha Vajiranyan [for King Mongkut], 2) Pra Buddha Panna-agga [for Prince Rerk] and 3) Pra Buddha Manussanag [for Prince Vajiranyan]. Pra Buddha Vajiranyan and Pra Buddha Panna-agga were cast by King Chulalongkon (Rama V [ r. 1868-1910]) for his father and preceptor, respectively. The third Buddha image, Pra Buddha Manussanag, was cast by King Prajadipok (King Rama VII [ r. 1925-1935] ) for Prince Vajiranyanavarorasa, his uncle and preceptor. The base of all three images contains a portion of their namesake’s ashes.

Similar to the south-eastern room which contains the ‘Venerable Black Father’ image, the room on the opposite side of the structure, facing the north-west, contains a replica of the Phra Buddha Jinasiha– the main Sukhothai-era Buddha image found in the main chapel. On December 20, 2015, Princess Soamsawali, acting on behalf of His Majesty King Bhumibol, presided over the internment ceremony for the ashes of H.H. Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the 19th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The cremains of His Holiness, the sixth abbot of Wat Bowon, were placed in the plinth, beneath the replica.

Next door, to the south, is another equally important building known as Vihara Pra Sasada. This building has two rooms and gets it’s name from the famous Buddha image located inside. The Pra Sasada, situated in the front room, facing east, was cast in the same period as the Pra Buddha Jinarat and Pra Buddha Jinasiha, the latter being the principle Buddha image in the chapel of Wat Bowonniwet. All three images were, at one time, situated in the same monastery, Wat Pra Sri Ratana Maha Dhatu, in Phitsanuloke province. Directly in front of the Pra Sasada Buddha image is a beautiful seated green-stone Buddha believed to be from the Dvaravadi period (Mon period).

P1340331The smaller room to the back hosts an equally beautiful reclining Buddha, known as Pra Saiya. Prince Mongkut discovered this image at Wat Pra Pai Luang, Phisanulok province, and had it moved to Wat Bowonniwet in 1847. After moving the Buddha Jinasiha to its present position in the ordination hall, the prince placed this reclining Buddha on the spot the Jinasiha once maintained. Prince Damrong Rajanuparp, Thai Historian and son of King Mongkut, writes in Tamnan Phra Buddharup Samkan (Legends of Important Buddha Images) ‘this reclining Buddha image exels all others in beauty.’

Next Pra Tamnak Lang