Wat Phra Kaew
Bangkok Attractions | Bangkok temples and attractions
The Grand Palace together with Wat Phra Kaew is the number one tourist attraction in Bangkok, probably all of Thailand. If you only have the opportunity to see one thing in Bangkok, this should be it.
The complex of Wat Phara Kaew is actually made up of many wats or Buddhist temples, all the wats on this complex are excellent examples of classical Thai Buddhist temples which are made from the current style of Rattanakosin style era. Gold stupas can be seen among the elaborate pillars and roofs, which are adorned with mirrors and cut glass. Upon close inspection it has the appearance of and complicated mosaic, but when seen from a distance they just shimmer and glisten.
The main attraction is Wat Phara Kaew, or the temple of the Emerald Buddha built in 1782. Often time Buddhist ceremonies are held here because it is the most revered temple in the group of temples.
The Emerald Buddha is probably the most holy and valued Buddhist icon in all of Thailand. It attracts thousands of visitors from tourist or Thai pilgrims every day. Surprisingly the Emerald Buddhist is actually very small in size it is only about 75cm in size. It is not really made of emeralds but made instead with either jade or jasper. It does however have a rather chaotic and adventurous history. Its origin is unknown, but the earliest records speak of an ordinary, plain Buddha made of marble and gold leaf found in northern Thailand. When it fell and cracked open the present Buddha was found inside. In the later part of the fifteenth century it was moved to a temple in Lampang called Wat Phra Kaew and later moved again to Wat Chedi Luang to a temple with the same name located in Chiang Mai at the peak of the Lanna Kingdom. In the sixteenth century raiders from Lan Chan Kingdom (Laos) stole the Buddha to Vientiane and placed in a temple there. It wasn't until 200 years later it was returned to Thailand because King Taksin defeated the Lao. It was originally place in its new home in Thon Buri until the capital moved across the river. It was then place in its present location of Wat Phra Kaew, which was built just to house the Emerald Buddha in 1782 by King Rama I.
The greatest respect must be shown when you enter the building of Wat Phra Kaew. Shoes must be removed and no pictures can be taken inside the temple. When you are seated, make sure your toes are not pointed at the Emerald Buddha, which is the main point for all the visitors or those worshipping Buddhists and the monks.
The width of the boundary walls is a beautiful, elegant mural illustrating scenes from the epic fable of Ramakian. This impressive mural must be touched up and restored on a constant basis. It is an endless task, but you will always see people diligently working on it. Inside the Wat Phra Kaew complex there is an ancient scale model of Angkor Wat.