Wat Ounalom

Wat Ounalom, Phnom Penh is reputedly the oldest of the five pagodas that have been founded during Phnom Penh’s first era as a capital in the early 15th century.

Wat Ounalom, Cambodia
Wat Ounalom, Cambodia

On the riverfront about 250 meters north of the National Museum, facing the Tonle Sap River near the Royal Palace, this pagoda serves as the headquarters for one of the most revered Buddhist patriarchs. Ounalom Pagoda, Phnom Penh is one of the major tourist attractions in Phnom Penh.

The pagoda gets its name from its role as repository for an ounalom, a hair from the Buddha’s eyebrow, contained in the large chedi behind the vihara.

Wat Ounalom was built in 1443 on high flat land, which was the highest place in the time of building. The whole pagoda complex is surrounded by compound wall with entrances to the four directions. The pagoda faces east, just like the Royal Palace, and there are three entrances from the east. Inside the pagoda, there are more than 40 monasteries, included the monastery of the Supreme Patriarch, located to the north of the main sanctuary. Visit Phnom Penh with Tours in Cambodia

The compound wall surrounded the pagoda complex
The compound wall surrounded the pagoda complex

The monks use the vihara, which dates from 1952, in the early morning, after which time visitors can enter. Unusually, it’s built on three floors, and houses a commemorative statue of Samdech Huot Tat, the venerable fourth patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism, who was murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Despite its unappealing exterior, the dark-grey chedi is worth a quick look for its crypt, in which hundreds of small cubicles hold the funerary urns of Cambodian notables, most of which are adorned with bright plastic flowers and a photograph of the deceased. Visit Cambodia with Indochina Travel

Wat Ounalom Monastery
Wat Ounalom Monastery

Pagodas and monks welcome visitors and tourists. Please always remember to not disturb prayer or eating times, women are not allowed to touch monks, bow slightly in the presence of older monks, don’t point soles of feet or fingers towards monks or Buddha statues, sit with feet tucked behind rather than crossed, hats off in the monastery grounds, take off your shoes in the building, speak softly, ask before taking pictures, don’t enter closed buildings without permission, contribute what you can to the donation box.

The Indochina Voyages team.

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