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  Bangkok Attractions

Wat Phra Kaeo or Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Grand Palace
Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing
Bangkok National Museum
Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn
Jim Thompson's House
Santichaiprakarn Park
Lumpini Park

Wat Phra Kaeo or Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Wat Phra Kaeo was built in 1782 on the orders of King Rama I along with the Grand Palace and Ratanakosin Island. It is a royal temple built within the Grand Palace compound therefore there is no resident monks. The temple is a treasure house of Thai arts, and houses the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.

High on its golden altar made of gilt carved wood, the Emerald Buddha wears one of three seasonal costumes. This lanna style Buddha image is in a seated position in the attitude of meditation. The Emerald Buddha was first found in 1434 while covered in stucco. Years later, the stucco started to crumble away and several miracles occurred, giving the Buddha a reputation for bringing good fortune. The statue had since traveled to different part of the region depending on the power center of the time. Chao Phraya Chakri, who later became King Rama I, brought the image back to Thailand in 1778. Today, thousands of worshippers pay their respects in front of the statue.

The Ubosoth, or the ordination hall, which houses the Emerald Buddha is located on the southern side of the temple ground. At the staircase leading to the doors of the Ubosoth are statues of bronze mythical lions called Singha. It is said that bronze Singhas were made from the model of a stone Singha from Cambodia. Inside, there are other interesting objects to be seen including Murals painting on the wall. Those facing the Emerald Buddha show the Enlightenment of the Buddha when Mara and his army attacked the Buddha and were afterward drown in water wrung from the earth goddess's hair. The superb door panels with mother-of-pearl inlay illustrate scenes from the Ramakian, the Thai version of the Indian Ramayana. The golden outer walls and gilded angles reflect the sun, while bells along the roof-line give voice to the wind.

Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha
Entering the temple
Entering the Temple

On the upper terrace, three main buildings form up a glittering scene. The Golden Stupa or Phra Sri Ratana Chedi enshrines the relics of the Buddha. The Phra Mondhob or the Library, built in the reign of KIng Rama I, houses the Tripitaka or a Buddhist scripture. The Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn, surrounded by gilded male and female half-human-half-bird figures, is a pavilion used for keeping statues of deceased kings of Chakri dynasty. Also on the terrace are the model of the Angkor Wat, a reminder that Cambodia was once under Thai rule, and 18 Phanom Maks, a stucco tray with conical cover.

Upper Terrace
Upper Terrace
The Royal Pantheon
The Royal Pantheon
Gilded Mythical Being
Gilded Mythical Being

In the gallery surrounding the temple, the 178 section mural paintings which depict the entire story of the Ramayana are the superb masterpiece of Rattanakosin artisans. If stretched out, the murals is about a mile long. They were made during the reign of King Rama I, renewed under King Rama III, and again under King Mongkut. Nowadays, the murals were repainted once every 50 years. In front of the six gates passing through the gallery, six pairs of demon-guardian statues stand facing the Ubosoth. These mythical ogred were built in the reign of King Rama III, each representing an important character in the Ramayana.

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