Kelantan: Home to Malaysia’s biggest reclining Buddha

The reclining Buddha in Wat Phothivihan in Kelantan.

Wat Phothivihan was completed in 1979 and is famous for its Reclining Buddha statue.

It is often mistakenly described as South East Asia’s biggest reclining Buddha but that honour goes to the one at the Chauk Htet Gyi Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar which is 66 metres long.

But it is Malaysia’s biggest with a length of 40 metres, seven metres longer than the next biggest contender, Wat Chaiya Mangakalaram in Penang.

The craftsmanship of the statue is fairly simple when compared to similar but more elaborate reclining Buddhas in say Thailand or Myanmar.

Reclining Buddha at Wat Phothivihan

The statue is housed in a hanger surrounded by murals and smaller statues.

Underneath and to the rear of the Reclining Buddha is a columbarium (a vault with recesses to deposit urns containing the ashes of the departed).

Wat Phothivihan Columbarium

Many of these recesses contain photos of the deceased and offerings. One had a couple of cans of Guinness on display, presumably the gentleman’s favourite tipple for refreshment in the next world.

The grounds of the temple are attractive and contain various other statues and buildings.

Wheel of Dharma - Wat Phothivihan
In front of the reclining Buddha stands the intricate Wheel of Dharma.
Statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with 18 arms.
The Chinese Pavilion and a Tibetan style-hall.

There is a Chinese Pavilion and a Tibetan style hall featuring a statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with 18 arms.

The compound also includes accommodation for monks and visitors.

Wat Phothivihan
This rice-based dish served in a restaurant located in the compound is quite tasty and spicy.

Lunch in the restaurant in the compound where the temple is located, which one would naturally assume to be vegetarian, was not.

Lunch at Wat Phothivihan

How to get to Wat Phothivihan

It is about 15km west of Kota Bharu.

Take route 134 to Chabang Empat, then turn left on route D23 for a further 5km. The temple is between Kampung Ana and Kampung Berok.

There is plenty of free parking and entrance to the temple is free. Donations are always welcome.

This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com