Phra Chinnaraj (Victory Buddha)

On the banks of the Nan river in the center of Phitsanulok is the Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, a Royal temple dating to the 14th century. Local people often refer to the temple as the Wat Phra Si or Wat Yai, which means “big temple”.

Phra Chinnaraj (Victory Buddha)

The temple is famous for its golden Buddha image named Phra Buddha Chinnarat, considered by many to be the most beautiful Buddha image in Thailand. It is one of the most highly revered images in the country, which makes the temple an important pilgrimage site for Thai Buddhists.

The temple was founded in 1357 by King Phaya Lithai, King of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The King ordered the casting of three large Buddha images to be enshrined in the newly built temple. Some of the most famous artisans of his time were invited to do the job.

While the first two images came out perfect on the firs try, the last image took three castings. When it was completed, it turned out to be the most beautiful of the three and was named Phra Buddha Chinnarat. The 375 centimeter high Sukhothai style image is in the subduing Mara posture.

In the early 17th century gold plating was applied to the bronze image. A distinguishing feature is the aureola, shaped like flames, that surrounds most of the image. Of the three images that were cast, today only the Phra Buddha Chinnarat remains in this temple, the other two are now in the Wat Bowonniwet in Bangkok.

The Buddha image is depicted on the provincial seal of Phitsanulok province. A copy of the Phra Buddha Chinnarat is housed in the Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the “marble temple” in Bangkok.