Phra Pathom Chedi, the largest pagoda in Thailand. Phra Pathom Chedi is the official provincial symbol of Nakhon Pathom.
The present Phra Pathom Chedi was built during the reign of King Rama IV in 1853, under his royal command, the new Chedi was constructed to cover the former Chedi of which the shape was of an upside down bell shape with a Prang top. It is assumed that the former Chedi dates back to the year 539 AD due to the fact that the upside down bell shaped Chedi has a similar style to the Sanchi Chedi in India which was built in the reign of King Asoka. The construction of the new huge Chedi was completed in the reign of King Rama V in 1870 AD. In all, it took 17 years to build.
The completed Chedi is a circular one that features an upside down bell shape Chedi (Lankan style). The height from ground to a top crown is some 120.45 metres, and a total diameter at the base is 233.50 metres. The sacred Chedi houses Lord Buddha’s relics. During the reign of King Rama VI, Wat Phra Pathom was renovated and later the temple became the royal temple of King Rama VI. Within the monastery compound, there are various interesting historical items, including the Phra Ruang Rodjanarith ,an image of Buddha bestowing pardon, is enshrined in a vihara located to the North and in front of Phra Pathom Chedi. The casting of this Buddha image was casted during the reign of King Rama VI: the image’s head, hand, and feet were brought from Muang Srisatchanalai, Sukhothai.
Under royal command, a wax sculpture of the Buddha image was moulded. The casting process was held at Wat Phra Chettuphon in 1913. Later, the Buddha image was enshrined in the vihara, located on the north side at the top of a huge staircase. The King granted the name of “Phra Rung Rodjanarith Sri-intharathit Thammamopas Mahavachiravuth Rachpuchaniyabopitr” to this Buddha image. At its base, the relics of King Rama VI are housed. Additionally, there are:
Wat Phra Pathom Chedi Museum The museum is located at a lower level in the east of the church. It houses artefacts and historical remains which were discovered during the excavations in Nakhon Pathom including the coffin and funeral ritual set that were used in Ya-Lei’s cremation ceremony. Ya-Lei was a dog very dear to King Rama VI, that was shot and died. The King was much saddened and commanded to building of a monument for Ya-Lei as a token of his grief. The museum is open daily from 09.00-16.30 except Monday and Tuesday.
Then there is the National Museum of Phra Pathom Chedi This is also worth a visit. The National Museum of Phra Pathom Chedi is located to the south of the Pathom Chedi compound. It is a 2 storey modern Thai building that houses artefacts and historical remains, most of which dates back to Dvaravati period and were found during excavations in Nakhon Pathom. For more information, contact Khun Sunthorn, Pali Union Education Foundation tel: 257-745 or Khun Panom Taeng On, Phra Pathom Chedi Treasury and Preservation Office tel: 242-143. The museum is open daily from 09.00-16.00 except Monday, Tuesday and National Gazette holidays.