Wat Unalom and Preah Sakyamuni Chetey in Phnom Penh - KNT Diary

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wat Unalom and Preah Sakyamuni Chetey in Phnom Penh



Wat Unalom and Preah Sakyamuni Chetey in Phnom Penh are the religious sites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While Wat Unalom is a residence of Buddhist monks, Preah Sakyamuni Chetey is a stupa which used to be a shrine for Buddha relics.

Wat Ounalom


Wat Ounalom (also Wat Unnalom and several other spellings) is a wat located on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, near the Royal Palace of Cambodia. As the seat of Cambodia's Mohanikay order, it is the most important wat of Phnom Penh, and the center of Cambodian Buddhism. It was established in 1443 and consists of 44 structures.

It was damaged during the Khmer Rouge period but has since been restored. The main complex houses a stupa that contains what is believed to be an eyebrow hair of Buddha and an inscription in Pali.

Preah Sakyamuni Chetey


Definitive evidence is a little hard to come by, but this Stupa was constructed in the first flush of Cambodian independence, in the late 1950s. At that time, the area surrounding the train station, was the one of classier areas of the city, now somewhat run down, though slowly re-developing as the Cambodian rail system is under reconstruction.

The Stupa sits on a traffic circle, outside the main entrance to the Phnom Penh train station. The traffic circle is fenced off, and its grounds are now a lush and well cared for small garden. In design the stupa is a little different from the older Cambodian stupas I have seen. It has a circular base, with successive stages moving upwards. The base section has a small shrine inside. At the apex is a glass front small room, with a Buddha statue. The Stupa is ~8m high, bright gold in colour, newly painted sometime in the last few years.

Originally, the Stupa contained Buddhist relics, but these were moved from the Stupa in 2002 to the ancestral city of Oudong, ~40kms north of Phnom Penh. I am unsure if this Stupa now contains relics, however, I suspect that it would, though of lesser importance.

Information: conversations with locals, wikipedia, and “Buddhism in world cultures: comparative perspectives”, by Stephen C. Berkwitz.

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