Wat Phra Kaew (known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or locally as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand.
Located in the historic centre of Bangkok and within the grounds of the Grand Palace, the temple enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.
The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north and dates back to the 15th century.
THE EMERALD BUDDHA AT WAT PHRA KAEW
Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed 3 times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season, covers the statue.
A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple of Emerald Buddha is decorated with gold and red murals. Even the ceiling is adorned with majesty.
You are not allowed to film or take pictures inside the temple as it is sacred. When we visited, locals were praying and we had to leave quickly as George was being enthusiastic on a loud scale.
ABOUT THE GRAND PALACE
If there’s one must-see sight that no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, it’s the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark.
Built in 1782 – and for over 150 years the home of the Thai King, the royal court and the administrative seat of government – the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people.
Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
HIGHLIGHTS AND FEATURES OF WAT PHRA KAEW
The construction of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas.
The main building is the central ubosot (ordination hall), which houses the Emerald Buddha. Even though it is small in size, it is the most important icon for Thai people.
Other attractions in Wat Phra Kaew include a model of Angkor Wat, which was built under the order of King Rama IV when Cambodia was under Siamese control. The model was later recreated in plaster at the behest of King Rama V to celebrate the first centenary of the Royal City.
Also, don’t miss the Balcony, which can be compared to the temple wall. The murals inside tell the Ramayana epic in its entirety. On the columns of the balcony are stone inscriptions of the verses describing the murals. Each gate of the Balcony is guarded by the 5-metre tall Yaksa Tavarnbal (Gatekeeping Giants), the characters taken from the same epic.