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History of the Temple

Wat Molilokayaram Rajaworawihan

By  Phra Medheewaraporn (Sutas), The Abbot.

 

Phra Ubosot        Wat Moli Lokayaram is a royal temple of the second tier, which is known as “Rajworawihan”. This 300-year old  temple was built in the Ayudhaya period. When King Taksin  established the Thonburi Kingdom, he  incorporated this  temple and Wat Arun into his palace boundary. During his reign, there were therefore no monks residing in the  temple and was considered as the temple within the palace   as usually practiced in the Ayudhaya Kingdom. This  temple was widely known during the Thonburi period as  “Wat Tai Talad” which literally means the temple behind  the market. This temple stretches for 5.1 acres and situates  behind King Taksin’s old palace on the western side  of the Chao Praya River, which is called Thonburi.  

        The oldest structure of this monastery is the Assembly Hall or Wihan which was built in the Ayudhaya period and  later King Taksin used it for storing salt  in  Thonburi period. It is sometimes called “Phra Wihan Chag Klua”   in Thai, which means a salt storage. This hall is  characterised  with the Thai-Chinese architecture covering with ceramic  roof tiles and gable spires and ridges decorated with stuccowork. The hall was separated into two chambers.  In  the smaller rear chamber stands a large image of seated  Lord Buddha in the attitude of subduing Mara named “Phra Parames”. The front larger chamber contains    several sacred Buddha images on the middle pedestal, each of which has   very beautiful Buddha characters. Wooden doors and windows   were beautifully carved with gilded lacquer art. This   assembly hall has a magnificent unique rare character and   is very worth seeing

 

        In the reign of King Rama I, the capital city was   moved to the other side of the Chao Praya River, which was called the Pra Nakorn east bank or the Main City. He  ordered his son, Prince Isarasundhorn, who was later King  Rama II, and HM. Queen Amrindramard (Nak) to restore  this temple and build a new Ubosot or chapel, respectively.     The chapel is covered with the ceramic roof tiles with timber    gable spires and their ridges, lacquered and decorated   with stained glass. The wall and the ceiling inside the temple   are painted in the traditional Thai print. Wooden doors  and windows were beautifully carved with gilded lacquer.

Phra Buddha Molilokanadh        The Principle   Buddha  Image in the Temple, named  “Phra Buddha Molilokanadh”, is a bronze Buddha image in   the attitude of subduing Mara having the front lap width of  2 metres with very beautiful Buddha characters. This image  is very sacred and has been respected by the kings  and Thai people since early Rattanakosin period.

        King Rama II renamed this monastery “Wat Buddhaisawan”   or “Wat Buddhai Sawan-yawas Worawihan”, which  implies the close relationship with the royal family.   Almost  all of his sons, including Kings Rama III and IV and HM Vice King Pinklao, had their elementary study here.

        King Rama III had restored the whole temple and again renamed it “Wat Moliloksudharam”.

        He built Somdej Hall  in 1843 AD for the statue of his  teacher, Somej Phra Buddhakosajarn (Kun), who not only taught him at his early age but also his First Ordination Teacher when he was ordained.  This sacred place has two storeys,  i.e the ground base and the upper  hall. The ground floor stands the bronze statue of Somdej Phra Buddhakosajarn (Kun) and is the foundation of four Lankan  style  stupas, which are believed to keep the top knots, called Moli in Thai of Kings Rama III and IV. And that is   how the name of the temple was derived.   Both sides of  the hall have two staircases to the upper floor and the front  tunnel stands the sculptural footprints of Lord Buddha.

        The timber Tripitaka Hall was also built in his reign   with very beautiful gilded black lacquer art on doors and windows.  It  is worth seeing very much. 

        King Rama IV built a new chamber for the abbot,  a Chanting Hall and subsequently a larger Central Hall serving both chanting and dining purposes. He restored the  chapel by allowing his royal emblem of the mythological   elephant with the royal canopy be placed on its gable. It   is very likely that the present name of the temple –“MoliLokayaram” was given in this reign.

Somdej Hall

 

        King Rama V had renovated the monastery library (The timber Tripitaka Hall) and  gave monks  Kathina, a Buddhist festival which comes at the end of Vassa, the three-month rainy season retreat for Theravada Buddhists  for  many times.

        King Rama VI ordered this royal temple as the second tier,   which has been known as Rajaworawihan ever since.

        Wat  Molilokayaram was usually visited by the kings, i.e King Rama V, King Rama IV and the present King Rama IX  especially during the annual robe-presentation ceremony following the end of the rains retreat. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited the Tripitaka Hall on the 12th  January 1998.

 

        This old temple embodies much significance to the Chakri dynasty and our nation in many ways. Thus, the Department of Arts has registered this temple as one of the national historical sites.

 

 

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