Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Bangkok Attractions | Bangkok temples the Emerald Buddha
Of all Bangkok's and Thailand's temples, the renown for tourists and reviered for Thai's is the Wat Phra Kaew, or the temple of the Emerald Buddha. For the Thais, the Wat Phra Kaew is the most spiritually and historically significant of all temples as the Emerald Buddha traces a direct line with the Lord Buddha 2500 years ago.
The Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha temple
Situated on the grounds of the spectacular Grand Palace Complex, the Wat Phra Kaew was built in 1782, the same year Bangkok was founded. It is one of more than 100 stunning buildings that make up the magnificent Grand Palace. The Wat Phra Kaew boasts the same intricate architectural details that are typical of Thai temples. However, unlike the typical Thai temple, it is not a monastery, as it does not have any resident monks. Instead, the Wat Phra Kaew serves more like a private chapel for the royal family.
The Emerald Buddha temple
The Wat Phra Kaew is Thailand's most sacred temple. It is also a virtual national treasure trove of priceless Thai artifacts and manuscripts. The most venerated of the Wat Phra Kaew's treasures is a tiny figurine called the Emerald Buddha.
The Wat Phra Kaew was expressly built to enshrine the Emerald Buddha. After King Rama I (1737-1809), captured Vientiane city, he brought the Emerald Buddha back home and commissioned the temple of the Wat Phra Kaew to house it. It is, then, a symbol representing Siam's regained nationhood, and an object of national veneration.
The Emerald Buddha was crafted in the 1400s from a single block of green jadeite (jasper), emerald. It stands at a mere 45 cm high.
The Emerald Buddha is clad in three different robes. Three times a year, at the beginning of each season, the Emerald Buddha's robe is changed by the king himself. For the cold season, a solid gold robe, for the hot season, diamond-encrusted gold robe, and for the rainy season, a gilded monk's robe.
The entire Wat Phra Kaew is enclosed within a walled gallery, that bears intricate scenes from the Ramakien epic. The temple's entrance is flanked by two "demons" called yakshas in Thai.
Etiquette at the The Emerald Buddha temple
Keep in mind that long pants are a requirement at the Wat Phra Kaew, and there is an unspoken expectation that you will pay due respect in this most sacred of Thai temples. Please keep your noise down. You are not allowed to take pictures inside the temple. Please refrain from touching relics with your feet or touching monks.
Getting to the Emerald Temple
The Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is just 450 meters back from the Chao Praya River and can be easily accessed by the River ferries that run along this ancient and major artery. The ferry terminal is Chang Cross River ferry pier. If you are near the The sky train system head for the Saphan Taksin station, get out and change to the Central River ferry pier and take the ferry north Chang Cross. If all this sounds like stress, just hop into a metered taxi and you are there!
Places to stay near the Grand Palace
If you are travelling on a budget you are very close to the Khao San Rd Hotels. This Road is home to traveling scene in Bangkok and where Leonardo Di Caprio set off from in the movie 'The Beach'. You are just 1.1 km from Khao San Rd to The Grand Palace.
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