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There are thousands of temples, or wat, in Thailand. Some of these vary in style and size but according to the principles of Buddhist architecture, the structures within a temple should include a bot, or ubosot, for religious ceremonies such as ordinations; a wihan to house various Buddha images and for laypersons to take part in religious services; a Sala kanparien which is a large meeting hall which is not only used for religious services but also sometimes as a social or civic center; a mondop for storing the Buddhist scriptures; chedi for housing sacred relics or images; a ho rakang, or belfry, to sound the time for ceremonies, prayers, etc. and kuti where the monks live. Some may also have a library, a crematorium and a school.
Wat : A Wat is a Thai Buddhist temple or monastery. In most cases it is not just one building, but a collection of buildings, shrines, and monuments within a courtyard that is enclosed by a wall.
The Bot : The Bot (also called Ubosot) is the ordination hall of a Wat. It is the place where new monks take their vows. You can recognize a building as a Bot by the six boundary stones (Bai Sema) that define the limits of its sanctuary. Bots are usually open only to the monks. The building faces east and usually houses an altar and one or several Buddha images. The hornlike finial on the roof ridge is called the chofa, representing the head of the garuda.
Chofah : Chofahs are the bird-like decorations on the end of the temple roofs.
If you visit the Museum of the Emerald Buddha near the Grand Palace in Bangkok you can see examples of Chofahs displayed in glass cases in the ground floor and have a closer look at them. Chofahs are often decorated with little bells that tinkle in the wind.
Chedi : A Chedi (a different term would be stupa or pagoda) is a domed edifice, often quite tall, under which relics of the Buddha or revered religious teachers are buried.
Prang : A Prang is an Ayutthayan or Khmer-style Chedi that is high and slim and looks like a vertical ear corn.Many of the Chedis in Wat Phra Kaew or Wat Po in Bangkok are Prangs.
Mondop : A Mondop (also called Mandapa) is a baldachin structure that has in some temples been erected above the library with the sacred Buddhist scripts.
Ho Trai : The Ho Trai (also transcripted as"Ho Phra") is the library of the Wat. It is usually a very small, highly decorated building.
In the Central Plains it often sits on columns in a pond . The holy scripts and sacred manuscripts of the Wat are kept inside.
Viharn : A Viharn is a sermon hall. It is usually the busiest building in a Wat and open to everyone (provided the visitor behaves according to the temple etiquette!: you must be properly dressed, take off your shoes before entering a building and behave quietly) Just like the Bots, Viharns hold an altar and one or several Buddha images.
Sala : A Sala is an open-sided pavilion. Some Viharns are built in this style
Naga : A Naga is a representation of a mystical serpent that according to the holy scripts sheltered the Buddha while he was meditating. In temple architecture, it runs down the edge of the roof, or, especially in Lanna (North of Thailand) temples, flanks the staircase that ascends to the Viharn or Bot. In sculptures, it is depicted sheltering the head of the Buddha with its own. Beautiful representations of Nagas are known from Khmer art, as found in the Khmer ruins in the Northeast of Thailand.
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