Wat Dhammararam – Stockton, California - Atlas Obscura
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Stockton, California

Wat Dhammararam

Giant jewel-toned statues fill the grounds of this Cambodian Buddhist temple in California. 

What began as one monk’s vision has blossomed into a spectacular place of wonder and spirituality. Dazzling handcrafted statues, some embellished with jewels, fill the grounds. They all honor the Cambodian Buddha.

Wat Dhammararam is a Cambodian Buddhist temple situated within a nondescript neighborhood in east Stockton, California. The nearly 100 statues that fill the property are rich with bright colors, flashes of gold paint, and intricate details. They’re also all much bigger than one would expect, giving each one a larger-than-life feel.

The statues and painted murals all tell part of Buddha’s story, ranging from his birth to his childhood to his last day on Earth. Each one depicts a different scene with captivating artistic detail, making visiting both an informative and eye-catching experience.

One of the most impressive features is the enormous 50-foot-long reclining Buddha, which amazingly seems to dwarf all the other fixtures. It represents the end of Buddha’s time on earth, showing him in the final moments before his soul departs for Nirvana.

You’ll likely encounter some of the temple’s monks while visiting the grounds. Every April, the temple also hosts an annual celebration of the Cambodian New Year.

Know Before You Go

This place is free and open to the public year-round during daylight hours only. When you arrive, you may feel a little lost. Just drive toward the back of the property and park anywhere. It's all"self-guided."

There are a lot of signs on the property, all in Cambodian. These signs are for donor recognition and are not explanations of the statues or carvings. Donation boxes can be found at many of the statues.