Wat Mahathat ,Bangkok

Founded in the 1700s, Wat Mahathat is a national centre for the Mahanikai monastic sect and houses one of Bangkok's two Buddhist universities, Mahathat Rajavidyalaya. The university is the most important place of Buddhist learning in mainland South-East Asia today.

Mahathat and the surrounding area have developed into an informal Thai cultural centre of sorts, though this may not be obvious at first glance. A daily open-air market features traditional Thai herbal medicine, and out on the street you'll find a string of shops selling herbal cures and of fering Thai massage. On weekends, a large produce market held on the temple grounds brings people from all over Bangkok and beyond. Opposite the main entrance on the other side of Th Maharat is a large religious amulet market.

The monastery's International Buddhist Meditation Centre offers meditation instruction in English on the second Saturday of every month from 2 to 6 pm in the Dhamma Vicaya Hall. Those interested in more intensive instruction should contact the monks in Section 5 of the temple.

The temple complex is officially open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm daily and on wan phrá, Buddhist holy days (the full and new moons every fortnight). Admission is free.

Wat Mahathat is right across the street from Wat Phra Kaew, on the west side of Sanam Luang. Air-con bus Nos 8 and 12 both pass by it, and the nearest Chao Phraya River Express pier is Tha Maharat.


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