Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew is popularly known as the Temple of Emerald Buddha. It lies in the same compound as the Grand Palace. These two monuments are on top of the list of must-see places of every tourist coming to Thailand.
This temple was built in 1782, when Bangkok was founded. It is a collection of a hundred glittering, colorful buildings, golden spires and mosaics. This is the most sacred temple of Thais and the visitors to the temple are expected to behave in an appropriate manner.
The main attraction of the place is the green-colored Buddha image known as the Emerald Buddha, which is about 75cm in height. It is made of either green jade or jasper and not emerald as the name suggests. Visitors can see the Buddha image high above the throng of devotees. It is impossible to get a good view of the image as it is kept enclosed in a glass case at a distance. Photography is not allowed inside the temple , which doesn’t help the situation either.
The Emerald Buddha or Phra Kaew Morakot is made according to the Lanna style of the north. It dates back to 15th century. The Buddha is depicted in a sitting position. King Rama I brought this image to Thailand from Vietnam. Now, it is the most sacred Buddha image in the country.
Model of Angkor Wat: Phra Samphopphai built this model during King Rama IV’s reign. It was rebuilt in plaster during centennial celebrations of Bangkok city during the rule of King Rama V.
Prasat Phra Thepidon: Originally called Puttaprang Prasat, this four-square prang was built by King Rama IV. Statues of all kings – from King Rama I to King Rama VIII – are kept inside. On Chakri Day, which falls on April 6, people come here to pay homage to the kings.
Mondop: This structure was built by King Rama I and stands behind Prasat Phra Thepidon. The main attraction is a cabinet containing Buddhist scriptures. The cabinet is decorated in mother-of-pearl.
Balcony: The walls are covered entirely with murals conveying the story of Ramayana. The columns of the balcony have stone carvings of corresponding Ramayana verses.
Phra Sri Ratana Chedi: This Chedi is located on the west side on the Mondop. Its style was inspired by the Wat Sri Sanphet of Ayutthaya. The small Chedi inside has relics of Lord Buddha.
Phra Atsada Maha Chedi: This is a collection of eight Chedis, standing in front of the temple. King Rama I built these and dedicated them to heaven. Each Chedi has a name, with six of them lying outside the balcony and two of them inside.
Yaksa Tavarnbal: These are Gate-keeping Giants of the Ramayana, standing guard in pairs at each gate of the Balcony.
Hor Phra Khanthan-rat: This is located on the east corner of the Balcony. It has Phra Puttakhanthan-rat figure inside. For royal rain-making ceremonies and first rice planting ceremony, Phra Puttakhanthan-rat is the presiding deity. Inside the building, there are murals by artist Khrua In Khong.
Hor Phra Ratcha Karamanusorn: This has 34 Buddha images in various positions. This was built by King Rama III and dedicated it to the kings.
Hor Phra Ratcha Pongsanusorn: This was built by King Rama IV and has the Buddha image of the ruling King of Rattanakosin period. Mural by artist Khrua In Khong decorate the inside walls.
Hor Phra Nak: This Thai-style building, located behind the temple, stores the ashes of the royal family members.
This temple is also known by names Wat Phra Chetuphon or Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is located close to the Grand Palace. It is famous as the birthplace of Thai massage.
Before building the temple, this location was the center of Thai traditional medicine. Remnants of those days are the statues showing yoga postures. King Rama III renovated the place and new plaques inscribed with medical texts were displayed at various places inside the building. The temple was built in 1788, on the ruins of an earlier temple named Wat Phodharam, in the same location. It was again restored in 1982. A school for traditional medicine and massage was established here in 1962.
Wat Pho is spread over 80,000sq.m, which makes it one of the largest temples in Bangkok. It has more than 1000 Buddha images and the largest single Buddha image of The Reclining Buddha or Phra Buddhasaiyas. It measures 46m in length and 15m in height. The image was made during the restoration work in the late 18th century. The Buddha image has gold-plating around its body and mother-of-pearl on the eyes and soles of feet. It has 108 auspicious scenes of Chinese and Indian styles carved on its surface.
Soi Chetuphon divides the Wat Pho complex into two parts. The north compound has the temple and school of medicine. The south compound is a functioning monastery with monks living in the premises and a school.
Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn
This temple on the banks of Chao Phraya river during sunset makes a beautiful picture to take back home and to keep as a memento of the Bangkok vacation.
Originally called Wat Makok, the temple was built during the Ayutthaya period. Wat Arun got its present name from the Indian God of dawn, Aruna. Hence, it is also known as the Temple of Dawn.
The temple is built on the location of the palace of King Taksin, who founded the Siamese Kingdom. It is believed that King Rama II designed the main Buddha image of the temple.
The temple boasts of a 104m high Khmer-style prang or tower adorned with porcelain bits. These porcelain pieces are the ballast used in the ships coming from China. There are four smaller prangs surrounding the main prang.
The central balcony of the temple offers an excellent view of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha across the river.
At the end of Lent period of Buddhist monks every year, HM the King or his representative travels down the river in a Royal Barge Procession and present new robes to the monks here. This ceremony is known as Royal Tod Kathin.
King Rama V built Dusit Palace on the ruins of Dusit temple and used another temple to build the hall of the palace. As ancient rule demands the construction of a new temple in place of the old one, the King built a bigger temple instead of two. HRH Prince Naris Nuvattiwongs designed the temple and it was named Wat Benchamabophit, meaning the Wat of King Rama V.
Ubosot: This Thai-style structure made in Italian marble is four-sided with a four-level roof and a corridor at the back.
Replica of Pra Buddha Chinarat: The ashes of King Rama V are kept under the main Buddha image here.
Wat Benchamabophit National Museum: This museum has a vast collection of Buddha images from the times of King Rama V. The one in Sukhothai-style in Walking posture and another in Subduing Mara (demon) posture are the most beautiful among them
The Bridges: There are bridges built in different styles like cop bridge, tusk bridge and image bridge.
This royal temple was built by King Rama V in 1846 and has a Burmese feel. It is located across Mahachai Road from Golden Mount in Bangkok.
The main attraction is the Loha Prasat or the Metal Palace, which is a temple 36m high and encircled by 37 spires, each representing the 37 dharmas of Bodhipakya. The temple has a royal pavilion to welcome visitors and a statue of King Rama III.
The winding staircase of the temple is built in European technique, with huge pillars supporting it. This Loha Prasat is different from others as it was built as a Chedi and not as a monastery.
The temple has a well designed path leading from the belfry to the bridge, which connects this temple to Wat Thepthidaram.
The Ordination Hall, which lies along the canal, has square pillars and stuccoed gable. The Buddha image, Phra Setthamuni, is made of copper dug from the mines of Chanteuk in Nakhon Ratchasima region.
The temple constructed in 1807 during the reign of King Rama I, is located in the heart of the Rattanakosin Island. This is in confirmation of the Buddhist belief that Mount Phra Sumeru is at the center of the Universe. Phra Sri Sakayamunee, the main Buddha image, was shifted from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai to this temple in 1808.
Two-meter high compound walls that are almost 1m thick surround Wat Suthat. To reach the temple compound, you must pass through 15 doorways. Phra Wihan Luang or the Royal Temple is the most important building in the complex. The entire interior walls are covered with excellent murals, with the details inscribed in stone.
Phra Wihan Khot terrace encircles the Royal Temple and has an impressive array of 156 Buddha statues in the ‘smathi’ posture.
Phra Ubosot, the chapel of Wat Suthat, is one of the most beautiful and largest in Thailand.
The four elevated pavilions in the temple compound are used for royal ceremonies and for viewing past functions at the Giant Swing at the temple entrance.
The annual temple ceremony was held until 1930s, but discontinued due to the high-risk swinging by the youth to grab the sack of gold kept 25m up in the air.
A visit to this temple is worth it, as it gives you a chance to see a royal temple and also see the Giant Swing. This area has a number of shops selling religious items.
Wat Traimit or the Temple of the Golden Buddha is a modest temple, which attracts hordes of tourists with the presence of the Golden Buddha image inside. The Golden Buddha is supposed to belong to Sukhothai period during the 13th century and stands three meter high in pure gold, weighing five and a half tons. It is the largest statue in gold in the world.
The story behind the statue is even more interesting. It was covered with plaster to protect it from the invading Burmese army. However, the disguising work was done so well by artisans that, with their death, the secret of the disguised Buddha image was forgotten.
The true identity of the image was discovered centuries later, when the image was being shifted to a new temple in Bangkok. The image fell down resulting in a crack in the plaster coating. A monk, who had a divine inspiration, peeked through the crack to find the yellow glint of the gold inside.
This impressive Buddha image is definitely worth seeing. This temple is located at the end of Yaowarad Road (Chinatown) in Bangkok.
This temple allows visitors to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Buddhist temples without any distractions. This is royal temple of the top grade and has many cathedrals in memory of Thai royal family members.
Hand-painted glazed tiles, intricate woodwork and mirror work and gold-framed doors and windows are the highlights of this temple. The temple’s unusual design, gilded Chedi and the calm seated image of Buddha all add to the atmosphere.
Ubosot or the main chapel is done in European style, with chandelier hanging from high ceiling. The walls are fully covered with golden decorative panels.
The temple is open to visitors from 8am to 5pm and there is no admission fee. The easiest way to reach Wat Ratchabophit is by Express Boat from the Tha Thien Pier near Wat Pho. It is ideal to combine these two temples in one visit, as they are located close by. Another option is to take a taxi from the city center, which costs around 80 baht.
This temple dates back to the end of Ayutthaya period. It was known by many names during the course of these years and the present name was given by Somdet Phra Watchirayanwong (MR.Cheun) of Wat Bowonniwetwihan.
Phra Si Ariyamettraiya: This Buddha image made with brick and stucco is also known by the name Luangpor Toh. The standing image is in typical Sukhothai style with an alms bowl. The body of the image has glass mosaic and gold embedded in it. A stairway at the back of the image allows devotees to apply gold leaf to the body.
Sema: This cubicle displays stucco statues of political caricatures.
Museum: Old Buddha images and paintings are displayed here.
This is one of most sacred temples of Bangkok. King Rama IV used to be the chief abbot at this temple before his accession to throne. King Rama VII and HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej had stayed here during their monkshood days.
The temple built in 1829 has the beautiful Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinnasi. It was molded in the mid 14th century. The temple is located on Phra Sumen Road in the Bang Lamphu area.
Ubosot: It is a ‘trimuk’ pavilion with Chinese style tiled roof and wings on either side. The gable is adorned with glazed ceramics and the royal seal is inscribed at the center. The arches are done in gilded stucco. The murals by Khrua In Khong is done in European style. The main Buddha images are Phra Suwannakhet, Phra Phuttachinnasi, Phra Nirantarai and Phra Phutaninnat.
Sio Kang Gate: The main temple gate has Chinese style gateway guardians.
Panya Palace: King Rama III built this palace for the stay of ordained kings and princes.
Petch Palace: This building with strong influence of European architecture was the site of the first printing press in Thailand.
Mahamakut Buddhist University: This University for monks founded by King Rama V covers four subject areas – Religion and Philosophy, Humanities, Social Studies and Education.
This temple was built by King Rama III in 1836. It is a Thai-styled structure with Chinese influence. The countless Chinese statues adorning the temple grounds stand testimony to this. The gable is decorated with Chinese porcelain pieces.
It was here that the great Thai poet Sunthorn Phu (1786 – 1856) was ordained as a monk. He is described as the Shakespeare of Thai literature and UNESCO honored him for his outstanding cultural works in 1986, 131 years after his death. He was bestowed the title of ‘Great Personality of the World’ for his contributions to humanity.
Ironically, he came here after a disagreement with King Rama III over poetry. The quarters, where he lived for three years are preserved for visitors. Wat Thepthidaram is now a national monument, after declaring so by the Fine Arts Department in 1977.
Ubosot: This is a typical King Rama III architecture with Chinese influence. The Chinese porcelain embedded gable is a proof to this. The Buddha image kept inside the temple is Luang Phor Khao or Phra Buddha Devavilasa.
Wihan: The architecture here is the same as the ubosot. Inside, there are 43 Bhiksuni or the enlightened female disciples, cast in tin alloy.
Prang: The Ubosot has four tall prangs on its four corners. At the base of each, there is a Chinese guardian deity.
Kuti: The monk’s residential quarters were built during King Rama III rule. Each kuti or cell is different from others.
This temple is located on Mahachai Road, across the road from the old Fort Mahakarn community.
The full name of this temple is Wat Mahathat Yuwarajarangsarit Rajaworamahavihara. It was built during Ayutthaya period and underwent renovation in 1783. Maha Chulalongkrorn Rajavitthayalai, a Buddhist University lies within the same premises.
Over the course of years, the temple was known by many names. The sacred relics of Lord Buddha are kept in Phra Vihara here. During the early Rattanakosin period, Supreme Patriarchs lived here. Their residence is preserved now for visitors.
King Rama IV resided here during his monkshood days. His residence is Vihara Pho Lanka, or Vihara Noi and can be seen here. Another attraction here is the Akarn Watthu, or Red Building, which was home to Bangkok’s first library.
There is a statue of Prince Surasinghanart standing at the entrance of the temple. It is more of an artist’s imagination than a portrait.
Wat Saket – The Golden Mount
Also known as Phu Khao Thong, Wat Saket is a huge fully golden Chedi, located on top of a hill in the old royal sections of Bangkok. The temple is a favorite with both locals and tourists, for the stunning view of the city it offers from the top. For still better views, climb the 320 short steps up the spiral stairway outside the Chedi.
The view of the city from this hilltop can be compared to that from Statue of Liberty or the London Eye. The tourists who visit Bangkok should not miss it.
This man-made hill is the only one in Bangkok and hence it is of great importance to Buddhists. After the collapse of the original smaller Chedi, King Rama III started building a bigger one, which was completed during the reign of King Rama V.
The Buddha relic belonging to the Royal Chakri family was brought from the Grand Palace and enshrined in Wat Saket by King Rama V in 1877. In 1899, Marquis Curzon, the British Viceroy of India, bestowed more Buddhist relics upon King Rama V, which was enshrined in a bronze pagoda here.
The annual festival celebrated during November includes the pilgrimage to the hilltop.
This temple from the Ayutthaya period is more famous for the excellent murals by artists Thong Yu and Pae Khong. The murals by the same artists in other places are all repainted and only at Wat Suwannaram it remains in its original state.
The murals are based on Buddha’s life story. The one of Lord Buddha and his mother is regarded as the most beautiful among them. In the main chapel, there is a mural showing Lord Buddha bringing Buddhists in an unusual shaped boat to enlightenment.
The three-level roof of Ubosot is adorned with Garuda heads and various other decorations. The gable has intricate woodcarvings. There is a Wihan or prayer hall and quarters for monks.
Wat Suwannaram is located in Bangkok Noi, whish is close to the Royal Barges Museum.
This temple, also known as Wat Liap, was built during the end of Ayutthaya period by a Chinese merchant. It is one of the three principal Buddhist temples of Bangkok, the other two being Wat Ratchapradit and Wat Mahathat.
Prang: This tower was built during the rule of King Rama II. It has a five-tiered lotus base and 28 notches on top of it. Each level is adorned with statues of demons. At the top of the prang, there is a crown with Lord Siva’s weapon, noppasoon.
Ubosot: It has the murals by the artist Khrua In Khong. The Ubosot was greatly damaged in the bombing during WW II and later rebuilt to the design of Prof. Luang Wisan Silpaka (Cheua Patamachinda).
The mural artist Khrua In Khong was ordained as a monk in this temple. He was instrumental in inducting European style in the traditional Thai art.