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Wat Botum

"The Wat Botum, or Temple of the Lotus Blossoms, is a large complex of several separate buildings, including stupas and a school. Although there are no signs in English, the doors are open, so I decided to get there by walking. You can expect that you'll see monks in the complex resting, or working, or just sitting in the shade ..."

The Wat Botum is one of the most important pagodas in Phnom Penh since they buried some wealthy politicians here. There is competition between the Wat Botum and the Wat Ounalom, which the main pagoda in Phnom Penh. A monk told me, that the Wat Ounalom has more monks. But teh Wat Botum is actually larger, the entire complex has 202 to 260 meters. Another monk told me, that although Ounalom What is the seat of the most important monk, the Wat Botum is the seat of the monk of the chief deputy of the King (Preah Po Ti Veang).

The Wat Botum is not known to many tourists, but Cambodians know to find this pagoda, the better it is one of the oldest in the country. At the entrance you can see a monster with a dagger between his teeth, flanked by two nagas. In front of the Vihear (or vihara) is a plaque, detailing the history of the Wat Botum is engraved. Vihear or Vihara is a Buddhist monastery. On the plaque stands:

  • The Wat Botum was founded by King Ponhea Yat in the Buddhist year 1986, which amounts by my calculations on the western year 1442.

  • In 1865 King Norodom Bat donated the pagoda at the head of the sect Dhammayut, the monk grammed Topodae. The Wat was renamed Botum Wathei, which means the Pagoda of the Lotus Pond, because there used to be a lotus pond at this place.

  • Its present structure was established in 1937 by Bat Samdech Sisowat Monivong.

  • In the 1970s, the pagoda was closed by the Khmer Rouge, but it was not destroyed.

  • In 1979, the pagoda was reopened for use, but this time by the Mohanikae sect.

There are a few notable statues on the outside of the Vihara. To the left of the main entrance is a large stupa, which is guarded by green giants with daggers between their teeth along with a ferocious naga. Behind the vihara are lifelike tigers and lions. Since the Wat is old and important, many important monks and politicians were buried in grand stupas.

Within the vihara are the usual, familiar scenes from the life of Buddha. They are fairly recent, because the colors are crisp and clear. Among the more unusual stories are being shown. There are excellent illustrations of the Ou Li rie s story, a mad elephant bows to Buddha, and Cheng Cha, the prostitute with her wooden doll, which says that Buddha has conceived a child with her.

In a small room outside the vihara you'll see the five Buddha reincarnations as animal: rooster, turtle, naga, ox and lion-dog. This section is guarded by two fierce, white tigers. It also includes a large portrait of Angkor Wat. During the floods in 1996, this place used to be the sleeping room to the homeless at night.