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Wat Phrae Kaew, Bangkok Overview

The temple of the Emerald Buddha, commonly known as Wat Phra Kaew, is the most essential and revered Buddhist temple in Thailand as it enshrines the image of Phra Kaew Morakot carved from a single jade block. Established in 1785, the temple has elaborate carvings, paintings and pagodas, making it a spectacular sight for visitors.

Considering the significance of the Buddha statue, no one is allowed to go near it, except for the king. Located in the compound of the Grand Palace, the area talks about the forgotten past. Adorned with beautiful paintings and murals, Wat Pho is a bustling attraction with devotees and enthusiastic visitors throughout the year.

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The Temple Complex of Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew seen from the Outer Court of the Grand Palace
(Source)
The most impressive of the structures within the temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew is a model of Angkor Wat, which was initially built during the reign of King Rama IV. It belongs to the time when the Siamese controlled Cambodia.

The Hall of Justice
The Amarindra Hal, known as the Hall of Justice,l is one such hall, which is used for the coronation ceremony. Its walls and pillars are an excellent example of Thai architecture. The antique throne, which was used before the present throne, also lies here.

Borombhiman Hall
Borombhiman Hall, which is built in the French style, is renowned for being the residence of every king, since King Rama VI, at some time or the other.

Wat Phra Kaew
Prangs at the Wat Phra Kaew
(Source)
The eastern side of the temple are adorned with eight pillars, each of them painted in different colours and representing eight elements of Buddhism. They were built under the rule of King Rama I.

The Emerald Buddha

 

Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew
The Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddhist statue
in Thailand, found at Wat Phra Kaew
(Source)
The Buddha sits in a meditating position, and its origin is not known. According to legends, the sculpture was cast in the 15th century and landed in Bangkok in 1782. However, there is no certainty of its origins to date. There are various speculations about it; the most popular among them is that it was found in Lanna in 1434 when the temple was struck by thunder lightning. The statue was covered with concrete, and on removing the cover, a jade statue emerged. Since then, it moved to several locations and places, before finally being sheltered in Wat Phra Kaew.

History of Wat Phra Kaew

Inside Wat Phra Kaew
Relic inside the Wat Phra Kaew
(Source)
The construction of the Grand Palace was ordered by King Rama I in 1782. And the palace continued to be a residence for kings and an administrative seat for the government for 150 years. Wat Phra Kaew is a small temple inside the grand palace, which has been the seat of the emerald Buddha since 1784.

Architecture

Wat Phra Kaew, Grand Palace
The Wat Phra Kaew in the compound of the Grand Palace in Bangkok
(Source)
The temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew, which has over 100 buildings, each of them historically significant to the country, spans across an area of 94.5 hectares. Everything is designed according to the traditional Bangkok style. The walls are decorated with the mural paintings, depicting 'jataka' stories. The roof is adorned with orange and green tiles, which are in contrast with the pillars, that are inlaid in mosaic. The temple does not have living quarters for monks, and only contains intricate statues, pagodas and buildings.

Jataka, Garuda on Wat Phra Kaew
Jataka or Garuda Decorations on the Walls of Wat Phra Kaew
(Source)
The temple complex is surrounded by a 2 kilometres long wall, which is decorated with the murals depicting the Ramakian, the Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana. Around the temple lies 12 salas, that were built by King Rama I. These salas are known to house artefacts of regions such as Cambodia and Java.

Golden Chedi, Wat Phra Kaew
Golden Chedi at Wat Phra Kaew
(Source)
All around the complex, elephant statues can be spotted, which represent independence and power. Rubbing the head of the elephant is supposed to bring good luck and strength.

Visitor Tips

Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew at Sunset
(Source)
  • Photography is not allowed inside the temple.
  • A Personal Audio Guide can be hired from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Many languages, including, English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Russian, and Spanish, are available for your easy understanding.
  • Since it is a sacred temple, you are expected to dress conservatively. Legs and arms should be adequately covered. There is an availability of proper clothes at the counter, but it generally has a long queue.
  • While worshipping in front of the Buddha image, your feet should not face the sculpture. It is considered highly disrespectful.

How To Reach Wat Phrae Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew is located within the Grand Palace compound. The best way to reach is by using the subway system in Bangkok known as BTS and the express boat. Take a ticket for Saphan Taksin Station (S6 Station) and use the exit no.2 to enter the dock for Chao Phraya Express Boat. There are also some other boats like the long tail boat, shuttle boats, canal boat taxis or local boats available too. You can also directly hire a cab or a tuk-tuk to reach the Saphan Taksin Station in more comfort but it also has some chances of getting stuck in the Bangkok traffic. Alternatively, a taxi can be hired to reach Wat Phra Kaew.<

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