Wat Chaiyamangkalaram Temple
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram (also known as Chayamangkalaram or Chaiya Mangkalaram) is one of the most resplendent Buddhist temples in Penang. It has an outwardly Thai architecture applying vibrant colors and designs.

The Siamese temple was built on 1845 at a
five-acre land donated by Queen Victoria to the Thai Communities in Penang and is located at the heart of Georgetown along Burma Lane (Lorong Burma) in Pulau Tikus.

Although not the oldest, but Wat Chaiyamangkalaram is certainly the largest
Buddhist temple in Penang. Its interiors are adorned with a great number of Buddha
statues with the most prominent ones include the 33 meters (108ft) reclining Buddha. The colossal size reclining Buddha statue is reputed to be the longest in the world and takes pride of place alongside other famous Buddha colossi found in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and China.

The Wat Chaiyamangkalaram temple architecture is authentic down to the last bit of gold paint on the pagodas - so much so that you'll feel transported to another place and time when wandering about the sprawling grounds. Like the Burmese temple (Dhammikarama) across the road, one is likely to encounter mythical beings and religious icons which dot the grounds.

Wat Chaiyamangkalaram reclining Buddha statue is made of gold leaf, while the white of the eyes and the toenails are composed completely of Mother-of-Pearl. Its hair is pulled to a point which symbolizes Buddha's greatest enlightenment. This is called the "enlightenment elevation" and is symbolic of the spiritual power as one strives toward heaven. Also, between the eyes is a dot or "third eye" symbolic of spiritual vision.

"I teach the path to immortality" - Saying ascribed to the Buddha

You might not notice it, but the different posture assumed by Buddha signifies different meanings. The reclining Buddha status with serene look, relaxed pose, head resting in the palm of the right hand and the head pointing northwards all reflect the peaceful moment achieved when one achieves the highest state of being. It is the believe of Buddhist communities that the reclining Buddha statue signifies the enlightenment or Nirvana.

The temple hall in which this Buddha is housed is also called the Hall of the Thousand Buddha's. You will see on the walls hundreds of little golden sculptures. Underneath the Buddha is a mausoleum, holding the ashes of cremated Buddhist worshipers.

Other attractions at Wat Chaiya temple include enormous dragon serpents, sprawling from the balustrades of the temple's entrance towards the meditation hall. According to legend, these serpents are the link between heaven and earth.

Contrary to western beliefs, Oriental mythology holds that serpents and dragons are propitious beings, and are not to be feared. You will also come upon gruesome-looking looking, green-faced beings referred to as Dewas, standing guard before the temple entrance.

A great time to visit Wat Chaiya temple is during the traditional Buddhist festivals, the Songkran and the Loy Krathong. Hundreds of Buddhist devotees throng the temple to pray and celebrate the yearly festivals.

Visitor are generally welcome to the temple but like any other places of worship in the country, you'll need to keep your voice down, removing footwear before entering the meditation halls and avoid using foul language.

Photo courtesy of www.tourismpenang.gov.com.my © All rights reserved