Bangkok - Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phrakaew) and the Royal Grand Palace
Video impression of Wat Phrakaew at bottom of this page.
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'Classic view' of the Wat Phrakaew compound. Picture taken from the income gate. From left to right : Royal Pantheon, Phra Mondop, Phra Sri Rattana Chedi, Ubosoth housing the Emerald Buddha.
The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phrakaew) are located on Rattanakosin island, the heart of Old Bangkok city, close to the Chao Phraya River. The Temple and Grand Palace compound can be visited between 8.30 AM and 3.30 PM. When visiting with a tour group you will only get a glimpse of the whole site (usually in less than 90 minutes) We recommend you go on your own or in a small group. You will most likely need 3 to 4 hours to see the whole site. Tourists enter first into the Wat Phrakaew compound, and then (no return) the Royal Grand Palace compound. Do not neglect to visit the inside of the monuments, both at the temple and the Grand Palace. Pictures are not allowed to be taken inside the buildings. We recommend you go as early as possible, especially if you want to take pictures, since the Bangkok sun does allow for very good images at midday.
View of the Ubosoth at Wat Phrakaew, housing the Emerald Buddha.
History of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
When King Rama I (1782-1809) of Bangkok established the city of Bangkok as his capital in 1782 A.D., he had the temple of the Emerald Buddha constructed in the eastern section of the Royal Palace in order to install the Emerald Buddha, which he had obtained from the city of Vientiane in Laos. The construction took two years to complete and the image of the Emerald Buddha was transferred from Thonburi to the present site in 1784.
The Emerald Buddha is carved from a large piece of green jade. It has a width of 48 cm and a height of 66 cm.
It is located in the 'ubosoth', the major building at the Wat Phrakaew compound.
The inside of the ubosoth has interesting mural paintings, depicting the Buddhist cosmology, and the lifes of Lord Buddha. The galleries around the temple show paintings, depicting the whole story of the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana).
The Royal Pantheon building, with gilded chedis on both sides.
Construction of the Royal Pantheon started in 1856. It houses statues of the early Kings of the Chakri dynasty. The gilded Phra Sri Rattana Chedi contains a relic of the Lord Buddha. Phra Mondop (a mondop is a spired hall on a square plane) served previously as a Library, and is a repository for the Pali Canons (Buddhist texts).
Phra Wihan Yot now serves as a chapel for the Phra Nak Buddha image.
The eight prangs (all in a different color) were build during the reign of Rama III (1824-1851), each of them dedicated to a different Buddhist concept.
Demon and monkey caryatides on one of the two gilt stupas, close to Royal Pantheon.
King Rama I build the Royal Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) in 1782, at the same time as Bangkok (Rattanakosin) was made the capital of Siam (Thailand). Most of the buildings were erected during the first reign, but new constructions were still added up to the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn). Besided the main palace buildings, there are also multiple Phra Thinang (buildings or halls used by the king). Some of them are still used by Their Majesties at present.
You may be tired after visiting Wat Phrakaew, but do not neglect to visit the inside of the various palace building and Phra Thinang.
Phra Rattana (Ratana) Chedi.
Royal Grand Palace : Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat. Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok, Thailand.