Phra Kaeo, Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located in a separate complex
within the compound of the Grand Palace, is Thailand's holiest
shrine. Officially named Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram, the
temple complex was modeled along the same lines as grand chapels
from the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras. No monks reside within
of this site started in 1782, the year of the founding of
Bangkok, as a shrine for the Emerald Buddha, a 66-cm tall
jadeite statue and Thailand's most sacred Buddha image.
Emerald Buddha, thought to be Lanna in style, sits atop an
ornate gilded altar inside the 'bot' or royal chapel. The
image wears three different costumes depending on the season:
a crown and jewelry in the hot season; a golden shawl in winter;
and a gilt robe and headdress in the rains. Each change of
costume is presided over by the reigning monarch.
inside walls of the chapel are covered in mural paintings
depicting the Buddhist cosmology, the Buddha subduing the
Mara (demon of desire), and jatakas-scenes from the daily
life of the Buddha. The chapel's door panels are inlaid with
mother-of-pearl illustrating scenes from the epic Ramakien.
the upper terrace of the compound are three more sacred buildings.
The Royal Pantheon, surrounded by gilded male and female 'kinaree'
(half-human figures), houses statues of past sovereigns of
the ruling dynasty. This building is only open to the public
on Chakri Day.
huge golden pagoda of Phra Si Rattana Chedi enshrines a fragment
of the Buddha's breastbone. The reliquary was originally built
during the reign of King Rama IV, while the golden tiles on
the exterior were added during King Rama V's reign.
magnificent Phra Mondop is used as a library to house Buddhist
scriptures. Built by King Rama I, this building is closed
to the public. The nearby model of Angkor Wat was donated
during the reign of King Mongkut.
demarcating the entire compound feature murals depicting the
story of the Ramakien. The 178 panels were painted at the
end of the 18th century but have since been restored many
Story of the Emerald Buddha
Emerald Buddha was first discovered at Wat Phra Kaeo in Chiang
Rai province in the year 1434, when a bolt of lightning struck
a pagoda, revealing a small and seemingly insignificant stucco
Buddha image. After many years, the plaster began to crumble
away, revealing the beautiful green jade image beneath. When
the King of Chiang Mai heard of the discovery, he sent an
army of elephants to take the image. The elephant carrying
the treasure refused to take the route back to Chiang Mai
however, instead heading south towards Lampang.
image was moved several times over the years, from Lampang
to Laos and was finally retrieved from Vientiane by General
Chakri, the future King Rama I, in 1778. The Emerald Buddha
was kept at Wat Arun for a while before taking its place on
a high golden alter in Wat Phra Kaeo in 1785.
miracles have been associated with the Emerald Buddha, bringing
the image a reputation for good fortune. Today thousands of
Buddhists pay their respects in front of the fabled image.
Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace are open to the public daily
from 8.30 am to 11.30 am and 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm. Admission
costs 125 baht which includes entry to the Royal Thai Decorations
& Coins Pavilion within the Grand Palace, and Vimanmek
Palace and the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall in nearby Dusit district.
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