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Bangkok City and Attractions

About the history of Bangkok

Bangkok used to be just a small fishing village on the banks of the Chao Praya River. However, the village was of strategic importance for the millions. It had a fortress wall that served to protect the then capital Ayutthaya from intruders from the sea. During the reign of King Narai (1656 – 1688), Bangkok was a flourishing trading center.With the founding of the Chakri dynasty in 1782 by Rama I, a new period began with Bangkok as the capital. This time is known as the Rattanakosin time in the history of Thailand. King Vachiralongkorn, the current king, is the tenth ruler of the royal house. Bangkok received the official name “Krungrattanakosin” and means something like: City in which the Emerald Buddha resides. Bangkok used to consist of elaborated of canals system. For this reason, the city was called the “Venice of the East”. At the Present Most of the canals were closed to build roads, but a few have been preserved and still serve as waterways.

The Royal palace

The Royal Palace is on the same site as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Its area is divided into four parts. On the east side is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the official building is on the west side. In the middle you can see a group of the Tronhalle and royal buildings. The royal palace was built in the time of King Rama I. Construction began on May 6, 1782 and was completed in 1785. The building is being renovated by all kings of the Chakri dynasty.

The Chittladda Palace

The Chittladda Palace was built in the time of King Rama VI (King Vachiravut). King Rama VII (King Prachatipok) regarded it as an outbuilding of the Dusit palace.The former King Bhumibol , King Rama IX made this palace his residence. Located on 70 hectares, the palace contains not only the royal residence, but also the Chittladda School, numerous economic projects under the royal patronage: a dairy, an experimental rice plant and a rice mill.

Dusit palace

The Dusit Palace, built by King Rama V, was first known as the Dusdi Garden. The palace includes the Anantasamakom Hall, Ampornsatan Hall, Suan Bua, Suanpudtan, Parliament, Chittladda Palace and Dusit Zoo ( so far has been moved ).

Saranrom Palace

The palace was built in the time of King Rama IV (King Mungkut) and was used by King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) as a guest house for royal visitors. Nowadays the building has been served as a Defense Ministry Building.

Monuments

1.1 The statue of king Rama I

is located at the Memorial Bridge of the Chaopraya River. Designed by Prince Naritt and casted by Professor Sinn Bhirasi, the bronze statue was unveiled by King Rama VII on April 6, 1932. Since then, April 6th has been celebrated as the day of remembrance for the founder of the Chakri Dynasty.

1.2 The statue of King Rama V

You can find this statue on Royal Plaza, in front of the Dusit Palace. The statue was built from donations from Thai people on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Coronation of King Rama V. The bronze statue itself was casted in Paris during the second royal trip to Europe and transported by ship to Bangkok. On November 11, 1908, the statue was unveiled by the king himself.

1.3 The statue of King Rama VI (king Vachiravut)

Initially, the Vachiravut School wanted to put the statue on the school grounds. However, the government at that time, whose Prime Minister Luang Pibunsongkram was, decided to put the statue in front of Lumpini Park, as the park was created on the initiative of the king. Designed and casted by Professor Sinn Bhirasi, the statue was unveiled on March 27, 1942 .

The Democracy monument

The foundation stone of the monument was laid on June 24th 1939 and built during the time of Field Marshal Pibhulsongkram. Construction lasted until June 22, 1940, and the monument was unveiled on June 24, 1940. The monument – according to its name – symbolizes the change from absolute monarchy to democracy in 1932.The twenty-four meter long wings and the twenty-four meter radius of the monument represent June 24th, i.e. the day of the change in the system of government. The seventy-five cannons around the monument symbolize the Buddhist year 2475.The 3 meter high column base under the constitutional replica refers to June – the third month according to the traditional Thai calendar. The six swords on the gate of the pillar stand for the six main concerns of the politics of the government of the time: ·        

  • Independence·        
  • Inner peace ·        
  • Equality·        
  • Freedom·        
  • Economy·        
  • Education.   

The Victory Monument

The monument is in front of the Ratchavitie Hospital. The square in the northwest corner currently serves as a small bus station. The monument was – by order of Field Marshal Pibhulsongkram – a memorial site for 59 officers, policemen, civil servants and civilians who sacrificed their lives during the Indochina War between Thailand and France in January 1939. The five statues represent the army, navy, air force, police and civilians.

Religious places

The Golden Mountain (Chedi Phukao Thong)

This religious monument in the form of a golden Stupa at Wat Saket is located on a man-made mountain . The construction began in the time of Rama III and ended during the reign of the following King Rama IV. The Stupa contains Buddha’s Relics, which King Rama V received as a gift from India. The Golden Mountain Stupa represents the highest of Bangkok, it is 76 meters high i.e. nine meters higher than the Prang of the Temple of Dawn > Wat Arun (67 meters) 

The Lakmuang Shrine

On the right side of the Ministry of Defense is the Bangkok City’s Shrine. Influenced by the Brahmanic traditional, the Thai people believe that the Shrine of the city symbolizes the establishment of Bangkok. The first Shrine Bangkok was built on April 21, 1782, which fell apart over time and was replaced on behalf of King Rama IV. Two pillars of the city have stood side by side since then.

Standing Buddha statue

The big Buddha statue of Wat IntharaviharnThis standing Buddha statue made of brick and plaster is about 40 meters high. It was set up in Wat Intharaviharn in the Bangkhunprom district. The construction of the statue, which is considered to be the largest Buddha statue in Bangkok, began in the time of Rama IV and ended in 1928.

Phra Sukhothai Traimit (The Golden Buddha Statue)

This Sukhothai-style golden Buddha statue is kept in the Bot of Wat Trai Mitr. Initially the statue was in Wat Chotikaram and – as a normal Buddha statue made of brick and plaster – was transported to Wat Traimitr. During the transport, a piece of plaster was broken off, so that its golden surface was exposed. It was discovered that the whole statue is made of pure solid gold. This seated Buddha statue is 3.9 meters high.

The National Museum

The museum is located on the palace complex of the then successor to the throne – Prince Krom Phra Ratchawang Borworn – near the royal palace. After this prince title was abolished in the time of Rama V, part of his palace became the National Museum in 1926. The idea of ​​building a national museum came from king Rama IV, who was collecting antiquities in the  Palace at that time. However, the collection was not shown to the public and was therefore more of a private collection. The first public museum was initially established in 1874 in the time of Rama V in the Concordia Hall. It was moved to the current side of the palace later in 1926.

Lumpini Park

The park – originally known as Thungsaladaeng – was once the private property of King Rama VI. He gave the grounds for the public park to his people and named it after the place of birth Buddha – Lumpini. Unfortunately, the king could not see his plan come true. The park was not completed until the time of the following King Phrachatipok.

Sanam – Luang

The large meadow next to the Royal Place and in front of the Thammasart University. This is where the public cremations of deceased members of the royal family take place. In the past there was also a weekend market on the square, as the whole abundance of tropical fruits, food and goods of all kinds as well as old books were offered for sale. Many years ago this market was relocated to Chatuchak Park on the outskirts of Bangkok. It is located opposite the northern bus station

Chatuchak Park

The property originally belonged to the Thai Rail system. In 1975 it was converted into a public park in celebration of King Bhumipol’s 48th birthday. The construction of the park was not finished until 1980. Nowadays, the square is not only used as a park, but also as a popular shopping area, to which the Sanam – Luang weekly market has been relocated.  

Bang – Lumpu

Bang – Lumpu is part of the old town of Bangkok. This district is located west of the city center, between the Chao praya River and Ratchadamnoen Street. Many Thai families still live in this area in the old tradition. They live in small old houses that are sometimes made of wood. Numerous traditional dishes are offered at the Bang Lum Pu market. The Bang Lumpu market is very famous for this. There are also small restaurants on the street in Bang Lumpu that are run by families. The market is also known for flower arrangements and traditional wreaths.

Chinatown

In the south-east of the city center, between Charoen krung Street and the Chaopraya River, lies Sampeng, the Chinese quarter of Bangkok. In this part of the city around Yaowarat Street there are numerous Chinese shops, alleyways with Chinese inscriptions, loudspeakers, posters and restaurants. Everything is traded here, especially antiques and gold. The Chinese came to Sukhothai, the first capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, about 700 years ago. With the import of Chinese pottery, which are brought into the country by King Ramkhamhaeng, a workshop for ceramic goods was built. Then the first Chinese were admitted to Thailand. In the Ayutthaya period, in the 16th century, there were already districts that were predominantly inhabited by Chinese. When Bangkok was founded in 1782, a large Chinese community had to be relocated from the residence in front of the King’s Palace to Sampeng. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, the number of Chinese people increased rapidly. They play a great influence on the Thai economic life. The main difference between the Chinese and the Thai people is the small eyelid trap and the lighter complexion.  

Temple architecture

@ Bot / Ubosot

The most important building within a Wat is the Bot or Ubosod or Ordination Hall. All religious ceremonies of the monk community take place in here ; here the monks pray and meditate in a solemn ceremony consecrated and accepted into the order. 

@Bai Sema

Or sacred stone that mark the sacred area of ​​the Bot. This area is called Khantasema. All Buddhism Ceremonies will be carried out inside Khantasema. 

@ Viharn

The Vihan usually has a similar architectural style as the Bot. Inside, a Buddha image is set up for the religious rite. When the Buddha was still alive, the Vihan had the function of “shelter” During the rainy season, i.e. the earlier Buddhist monks stayed in the Vihan. Three hundred years later, at the time when the erection of Buddha statues was becoming popular, the Vihan functioned as a place where monks would gather and perform their religious acts. This function has been retained to this day. 

@ Prarabieng

A roof corridor encloses the inner part of the temple. The roof surrounds the Ubosot or the Vihan. Decorated Phra Rabieng can be seen in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Chettupol, Wat Sutat and Wat Benchamabopit.   

@ Sala kan parien

After the construction of Vihan in the temple was no longer so popular, the place for meditation and religious rites was moved to the Sala Kan Parien. Salakanparien is usually an open pavilion that stands on high columns so that the ground floor can be used. Religious ceremonies are performed in the raised hallway in the middle. 

@ Sala Batr

You can usually find a Sala Bat in the country. It is the place where monks receive their gifts from lay people. 

@ Ho Trai

The Ho Trai is the place where the sacred Buddhist scriptures are kept. Usually the Ho Trai is made of wood – standing in a small pond – so that the building is kept away from insects and rodents. 

@ Kampaeng Kaeo

Is the low boundary wall that surrounds the Ubosot or Bot to separate the sacred area of ​​the Wat, marked by Sema stones, from other parts. This wall has its origin in Mahayana Buddhism; it represents the concept of Sukavadi, the building of happiness. 

@ Stupa or StupChedi

A cone-shaped structure with a tapering mast, the shape of the cone can be circular or polygonal. The name “StupChedi” is made up of two words. 

“The Stupa” originally meant a loud burial mound that is gradually being decorated.

“Chedi” originated from the word “Chaitiya” which means an object of worship. In Buddhism, StupChedi is considered to be a sacred building that represents buddha, because corpse ashes are kept in it.

There are many forms and styles of StupChedi. As a rule, they can be divided into three large groups. 

1.The conical StupChedi, also known as the Lanka or Ceylonese style of Stupa. The building basically consists of the following elements: ·        

  • The round base, called Than kieng, which represents the earthly restriction·        
  • Three series of forms as symbols of Buddhist cosmology·        
  • Other groups of forms called Bua Pak.·        
  • On top of the bell-shaped building a square platform, which symbolizes the throne Buddha or the teachings of the Buddha. A series of receding round shapes called “Plong Chanai”, the number of layers varies.·        
  • The upward tapering mast, which supports a ball “Luk Kaeo”. This sphere represents the highest form of wisdom,·        
  • The other rows of the upwardly pointed mast, above the top element called “Yard nam kang”, which symbolizes the achievement of Buddha’s enlightenment.

Lankan style stupas are covered in simple white lacquer work with pale copper, covered with gold leaf or partially gold-plated. 

2. The square stupchedi appears for the first time in the reign of King Phrasart Thong of Ayutthaya period and is a derivative of the spherical chedi. Its major structural elements are as follows; ·        

  • The square base called “Than Batr” represents the human earth.·        
  • Three superimposed layers stand for the three highest authorities of the three worlds in the Buddhist cosmology “Than Singh”·        
  • On the upper column foot there are lotus forms, which mean the basis of higher existence.·        
  • The structure of the StupChedi and all the elements on it show the same forms and also represent the same ideas as those of the circular StupChedi. The square StupChedi with a jagged corner is often decorated with stucco. The modern ones are decorated like a mosaic with ceramic pieces. 

3.The circular chedi on a square base an integrated design of the circular StupChedi, supported by the square base of the Mondops. Such structures appeared in the Srivichai, Chiengsaen, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Rattanakhosin periods. 

Phra Prang 

In contrast to the Chedi, the prang is a legacy of Hindu architecture. It goes back to the temple tower of the Khmer. Like this, the prang has a rectangular floor plan and high, steep steps that lead up to the chapel. On top of it is the actual tower, which leads upwards, but whose tip is rounded in the shape of a piston. The word prang actually means “courtyard” and refers to the open courtyard in front of the Shrine. In Brahmanic ceremonies it was forbidden for lay people to enter the holy Shrine, because this place was only intended for monks, so the lay people took part in the ceremonies in the courtyard.

The Prang serves essentially the same purpose as the Chedi. Originally built to preserve Buddha relics, such towers were later erected as grave monuments. In some important temples, the Prang is the main building of the Wats. 

Types of Buddhist Chedi

In the Buddhist sense, the word “Chedi” denotes the building that represents the symbolic monument of Buddha. There are four types of Chedi; 

1. The That Chedis, in which the ashes of the Buddha are kept. This Chedi can have the shape of a Stupa as well as a Prang. 

2. The Boripok Chedis mark four places in the life of the Buddha:·        

  • His place of birth·        
  • Enlightenment·        
  • The place where he gave his first sermon.·        
  • And the one on whom he died.

Other Chedis that mark prominent places or important events and serve as shrines for a certain important person are also classified under this type. 

3. The Thamma Chedis represent the Buddhist doctrine, in them the important writings of the Buddhist doctrine were kept in the old days. In later times the Buddhist “Bible” the Traipitaka also becomes a form of this Chedi. 

4. The Utesika Chedis include all characteristics and representations of the Buddha as well as his teachings, such as the Buddha statues etc.The Chedis are usually built within a temple complex. The Chedis that we mostly encounter are in the form of Stupa, Prang and Utesika Chedi in the form of statues of Buddha. 

Stupas and Prangs 

The Stupas – sometimes also called StupChedi – and the prang are mostly found in Buddhist temples. In some cases a Stupa or a Prang is even considered the most important building of the temple. Some of them are called That Chedi, although they do not contain any Buddhist ashes at all. The architectural styles of the Stupas and Prangs can be traced back to different sources, which explains their different appearance. 

The Stupas first appeared during the time of King Asokes the Great, around the 3rd Buddhist era. On his initiative, Stupas in the form of domes were built on a rectangular base, such as the Stupa in Sanchi in India, whose architectural style became the prototype for the Stupa of Hinayana Buddhism. This type of Stupa developed its architectural style and became known in Thailand, e.g. as “Chedi of circular Sinhala style”, square Chedi with twelve corners, etc. In contrast to the Chedi, the Prang is a legacy of Mahayana Buddhism. The architecture of the Thai Prang goes back to the temple tower of the Khmer, which was modified according to the Thai architecture. For example, the tower looked slimmer and was decorated with garuda in rows and nine jagged ends. These Prangs can be seen as an example of Thai – Buddhist architecture.Although the earlier Stupas and Prangs were supposed to be used to store the Buddha’s relics, such religious buildings with authentic relics became increasingly rare. Other Stupas and Prangs of more recent times are considered to be structural monuments in the sense of the Utesika Chedi.  

Wat – The Thai Buddhist Temple and its functions

The Buddhist monastery is usually referred to as a “Wat” in Thailand. Classification of the templeIn addition, temples are divided into two categories.

1. Royal temples

2. Civil temples

Royal temples are either those whose construction was commissioned by the king or which are under the patronage of the king. These temples are in turn structured hierarchically according to ranks, which can be recognized by the endings of their names. There are a total of six temples, which carry the highest rank of the first class royal temples:four are in Bangkok namely  :·        

  • Wat Phra Chetupol·        
  • Wat Mahathat·        
  • Wat Sutat·        
  • Wat Arun.

Two are in the provinces, namely ·        

  • Wat Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom Province·        
  • Wat Phra Putthabat in Saraburi Province. 

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is deliberately excluded from this group. Its uniqueness lies in its spiritual function. For once, there is no monastery belonging to the temple. According to statistics from 1986, there are approximately 200 royal temples in addition to 31,200 temples of other types and classes.The following temples were built by kings of the Chakri dynasty:

  • King Rama I: Wat Phra Chetupon
  • King Rama II: Wat Arun
  • King Rama III: Wat Ratcha – O – Rod
  • King Rama IV: Wat RatchapraditKing Rama V: Wat RatchabopitKing

Rama V built two temples during his reign:

  • First Wat Ratchabopit
  • Wat Benchamabopit.

Although Wat Ratchabopit is identified as the temple of his reign, the king’s ashes are actually kept in the base of the main Buddha figure in Wat Benchamabopit. No new royal temples have been built since King Rama VI, the following kings were more concerned with maintaining or restoring the temples that had already been built.

Zones in the temple

A “Wat” usually comprises two Zones:

1. The temple complex (Buddhavad)

2. The living area for the monks (Sangkavad)

A wat can also only contain the temple complex without the living area for the monks, such as Wat Phra kaeo or The Emerald Buddha. In the temple complex there are religious and ceremonial parts, in which the Ubosod or the Vihan etc. is laid out. Lay people can enter this part of the Wats to attend religious ceremonies. In the larger temples, a clear separation is drawn through these two zones by walls, small alleys or Klongs. The entry of women into the monks’ living quarters is strictly forbidden in some temples. 

Functions

Like the medieval monastery in Europe, the Temple fulfills a number of other functions besides the religious one:

1. The temple as a school

The first schools in Thailand were built in the monasteries. Monks taught the boys from the area in reading, writing and arithmetic. During the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), public schools were introduced in Thailand. Many monasteries still house state schools today. Some of these schools are very famous like the Wat Thepsirin School or the Wat Suthivararam School.

2. The temple as a village hostel

In the old days there were no hostels or hotels. Travelers were unable to stay overnight unless they had friends or relatives in the area. They went to the temple and asked the abbot for permission to spend the night in the temple. Nowadays, during a festival, people can also spend the night in the temple. The hospitality practiced in the temples is not limited to celebrations. The temple also offers refuge to people in need. Many rural residents send their children to school in Bangkok and also look for accommodation for their children at Wat. But only boys are allowed to live with the monks. They help them with daily works such as washing or preparing food. The boys not only get accommodation, but also food and are instructed in the Buddhist teachings.

3. The Temple as a meeting center for the community

The wat offers many uses, especially in the villages. It usually has a large assembly hall (sala) and a sports field. The young people meet for sports like takrow or football. You can use the hall for gatherings of the villagers, e.g. for meetings of government officials and villagers or for vaccination campaigns. But it can also serve as a location for a market. On religious holidays or Sundays, people come to the temple to hear sermons. On some public holidays, the temple is the place for annual markets and festive events. A wide variety of articles are then sold there. There are games for children, films, music, singing competitions, dances such as the folk dance “Ramwong”, traditional shows such as boxing and shadow games.

4. And finally the temple as a repository.

Valuable objects that enjoy particular religious reverence or that are of particular artistic or historical importance are kept : Buddha statues, documents, palm leaves on which texts are written in Pali. 

The main temples in Bangkok  

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Wat Phra Kaeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, stands on the grounds of the great royal palace. No monastery ( monk living quarter ) belongs to this temple. Wat Phra kaeo was built between 1782 and 1785 under the rule of King Rama I . It is a replica of the royal temple Wat Phra Sri San Phet in Ayutthaya. 

Things to see in Wat Phra Kaeo 
The Emerald Buddha

The figure of the Emerald Buddha consists of a green, transparent stone, made of jade. She is 66 cm. High and 48 cm. Wide. The Emerald Buddha was discovered in a chedi in Chiengrai (northern Thailand) in 1434. Lightning had struck the chedi and damaged a small stucco Buhhha statue covered with gold leaf. The stucco peeled off and the little green jade figure emerged. When the prince of Chiengmai heard of this event, he ordered the transfer of the Buddha figure to the capital. The elephant, who carried the figure on his back, decided at a crossroads for the way to Lampang and remained stubborn. His stubbornness was interpreted as a sign and the figure was finally brought to Lampang, where it stayed for 32 years. In 1468 King Tilok brought them to Chiengmai. In 1552 a Lao king who had married a princess of Chiengmai brought them to Luang Pra Bang and shortly afterwards to Vientien. The Emerald Buddha stayed in Laos for 226 years until General Chakrie, who later became King Rama the First, captured the figure on a campaign to Laos in 1778 and brought it back to Thailand. 

Three times a year the king himself changes the robe of the Emerald Buddha. In the rainy season, winter and summer. 

The bot in which the Emerald Buddha has been installed, is located in Wat Phra Kaeo. The walls of the bot are painted with scenes from the ten lives of the Buddha and depictions of heaven and hell. The roof of the bot has a three-layer cho – fa, the exterior walls are made of blue – gold stucco and decorated with glass mosaics. Windows and doors are decorated with mother-of-pearl. 

The murals in the gallery

The murals in the gallery, which extends like a cloister around the temple, show stories from the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Hindu epic “Ramayana” 

The Phrasart Phra Tep Bidon

The Phrasart Phra Tep Bidon was built in the time of king Rama IV and was originally intended as a place of worship for the Emerald Buddha. But it turned out to be too small. King Rama the Sixth had the Phrasart restored and had the statues of the deceased Chakrie kings erected there. He named the sanctuary Phra Sart Phra Tep bidon 

To the north of the Phrasart Phra Tep Bidon, the miniature of the Phra Sart Nakorn Wat (Angor Wat), the largest and most important temple complex of Hinduism in Cambodia, was built. Construction began in the reign of King Rama IV and was completed under King Rama V. 

In Homontientham there is a mother-of-pearl lacquered cupboard containing the Holy Scriptures. The Mondop is the library of the sacred writings of Traipidok. The Trai Pi dok was worked on under King Rama I and forms a basis of Theravada Buddhism. 

The golden chedi was built in 1885 under King Rama IV. The ashes of the Buddha are kept in the chedi. It was modeled on the chedi of Wat Phra Sri San Phet in Ayutthaya. 

The Vihan Yot is decorated with Chinese porcelain. 

Ho Phra Nag . The ashes of the members of the Chakrie dynasty are kept in here. 

The Royal Emblem monuments with the coat of arms of the Chakri King were created in the time of King Chulalongkorn. 

The Phra Prang consists of eight different color Prang, represent the Buddhism elements.

white                 = Buddha

green                = Thamma > Teaching of Buddha

pink                   = Sanga > monk community

green                = nuns > Lady monk > no more

purple               = Bo – tree > sacred Tree

blue                  = king

red                    = Buddha

yellow                = Future Buddha (Phra Sri Ariyametrei)

Twelve yaks (demons or giants) guard all the exits of the temple so that bad spirits cannot enter the temple. 

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)  

Wat Pho is south of the great royal palace. Originally the temple was called “Wat Photharam”. According to Prince Damrong Rachanupap, a well-established Thai historian, Wat Pho was built in the 16th century, at the time of King Narai. Wat Pho has been restored several times, most notably under King Rama I and King Rama III. 

Things to see in Wat Pho

The Bot (ubosot) has eight gates. The outside is designed with mother-of-pearl. The works show stories from the Ramakien. On the inside you can see the pictures of the monks’ prayer fans. The windows are made of solid teak and contain the names of Buddhist dignitaries. The most important Buddha figure in the temple is the Phra Buddha Patimakorn, the sculpture of a highly honored clergyman. The statue is in the Ayutthaya style.

The Bot stands in a large courtyard that is surrounded by a gallery. There are 394 sitting Buddha images were installed there.  

There is a directional Vihan on all four sides.  ·        

  • The east Vihan contains a large Buddha statue, the Phra Lokanat, which comes from Wat Phra sri san pet in Ayutthaya.·        
  • The west Vihan the statue contains Buddha Chinnasri from Sawankalok·        
  • The south Vihan the statue contains Buddha Chinarat, also from Sawankalok·        
  • The north Vihan the statue contains Buddha Pa Le Lai from the time of King Rama First. 

Giant StupaThere are four giant Stupas to the west of the Bot which represent the first four kings of the Chakrie dynasty. 

  1. The green stupa was built by King Rama I
  2. The yellow stupa was built by King Rama III, representing Rama II
  3. Rama III had the white stupa built, representing his reign                                                                           
  4. Rama IV had the blue stupa built

Next to the four giant stupa you can see a hall decorated with Chinese mosaics. It has the shape of a Mondop. Two other interesting buildings on the monastery grounds are the Sala Kan Parien and the Building of the Resting Buddha. There is an old monks’ school in the Sala kan Parien.  

The building, which houses the largest sculpture of a reclining Buddha, was built in the time of King Rama III. Covered with gold leaf, the statue is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. It depicts the Buddha at the entrance to nirvana. The soles of his feet face west and are inlaid with mother-of-pearl which show the 108 auspicious sight or Lucky Symbol.

Medical Pavilion.  In front of the large stupa there is a pavilion with granite tablets that King Rama III had built. On these tablets there are inscriptions dealing with traditional medicine. 

Wat Benchamabopit

Wat Benchamabopit is mostly known by tourists as a “Marble Temple” because the Bot is largely made of Italian Carara marble. The building material and the architecture give the temple a special charm. King Chulalongkorn had it built in 1899.

An old monastery, Wat Sai Thong, known as Wat Leam, which probably dates from the Ayutthaya period, originally stood on the grounds of Wat Benchamabopit. King Rama III and King Rama IV  had the temple to be renovated. King Rama IV gave it the new name Wat Benchabopit. The word means “Temple of the Five Kings”. During the reign of King Ramah V, the temple was renovated again. The king changed the name and called it Wat Banchamabopit. That means “Temple of the Fifth King”

Things to see in Wat Benchamabopit

The facade of the bot faces east. Two singhas (singha is a mythical lion in Hinduism) on either side of the stairs guard the main entrance. In the Bot is the most important buddha figure of the temple, the Phra Phut Ta Chinnasri. It is a replica of the Phra Phuta Chinnarat from Phitsanulok. Originally, King Chulalongkorn wanted the statue from Phitsanulok to be brought to Bangkok, but gave up his plan in order not to offend the people of Phitsanulok. Ashes of King Chulalongkorn are kept under the altar in front of the statue. The king spent his monkhood at this temple. There are eight niches inside the Bot. Each niche contains the image of a famous Stupa in Thailand. These pictures were painted in the time of King Rama VIII on the suggestion of Prince Krom Phraya Damrong. Five lamps hang from the ceiling, representing the first five reigns of the Chakri Kings. These lamps were manufactured in Germany in 1930.

In the gallery there are 52 statues of Buddha in different styles and actions and from different epochs. The statues were personally chosen by King Chulalongkorn. If you leave the gallery and go through the West Gate, you come across a Bo tree. It comes from the Bo tree in Buddha Kaya in India, where Buddha had his enlightenment. The tree was planted in the temple in 1900.    

Pavilion in the grounds of the temple  The Royal Pavilion. Sermons and sometimes state ceremonies were held here. The royal ordination pavilion contains four small pavilions, which were originally located in the royal palace and served as the residence of the king and heir to the throne in their time as monks. After a restoration, the pavilions were brought to Wat Benchamabopit. The pavilion is not open to the public.

Next to the royal ordination pavilion is the pavilion for the four members of the royal family. The pavilion contains drums that the Thai army captured from hill tribes invading Thailand from southern China.

The pavilion (Vihan Somdet) was built in honor of Queen Sauwapa Pongsri. It contains some Buddha statues from the Sukhothai period and valuable cabinets in which sacred Buddhist scriptures are kept.

The bell that is in the Bawornwong bell tower comes from Wat Phra Kaeo Wang Na. After this temple had lost its royal status by a decree of King Rama V, the bell was transferred to Wat Benchamabopit.

Wat Arun Ratchavararam (Temple of Dawn)

Wat Arun is located on the west bank of the Chao Phra ya River. It is an old temple from the Ayutthaya period, built by King Narai.The older names of the temple were Wat Bang Ma Kok and Wat Chaeng, legend has it that the name Wat Chaeng comes from king Taksin. He wanted to make Thonburi the new capital of Thailand in 1767 after driving the Burmese out of the country. Exactly arrived at the temple at the rise of the sun with his ship. He went to the temple to pay his respects to the Buddha’s relics. Then he had the temple restored and named it “Wat Chaeng” meant “ Dawn ”. The name Wat Arun Ratchavararam comes from King Rama II, who also had it restored.  

Things to see in Wat Arun Ratchavararam  

The Bot was built in the time of King Rama II. The front and rear facades of the roof show images of angels with swords. The figure of “Buddha Naruemit” can be seen between the doors. The outside of the Bot is covered with Chinese porcelain. Inside there are mural paintings depicting episodes from the life of the Buddha. Most of these pictures were painted during the time of King Rama III. The murals on the inside of the eight doors show motifs from Thai literature. The total area of ​​the pictures is 366 square meters. . Over all doors and windows hang pictures of altar tables in Chinese style.

The Buddha statue inside Bot  is called “Phra Budda Thaamamisrarat Lokatatdilok”. There are 144 granite statues of Chinese warriors in the gallery. In all four owls of the Bot there is a Chinese stone Chedi. Each of the four Chedis contains eight Chinese granite figures called “Poi Sien”.

The Phra Vihan is located between the Mondop Phra Buddha Bat and the monks living quarter. In Phra Vihan there is the main Buddha statue “Phra Buddha Champunut” and two other Buddha images in the posture of “Mal Vichai”.

The Phra Mondop “Phra Buddha Bat” or “Buddha footprint “ lies between the Chedi and the Vihan.

There are four small chedi between the gallery and the mondop. They are decorated with colored porcelain and glass. They were built at the time of the great restoration under King Rama III.

The Sala “Nai Ruang” – “Nai Nok” contains the stone-carved monuments of Nai Ruang and Nai Nok. Both men burned themselves to death.

The Phra Prang is in the south in front of the Wat and behind the small Bot and the small Vihan. The Prang rises on steps that taper towards the top. The large prang is surrounded by fences.. On the second landing you can see colored porcelain figures. On the third and fourth landing are the figures of Kinnon and kinnaris, mythical figures from literature. On the fourth landing there is also the green figure of the god Indra on the three-headed elephant Erawan in four niches. Above the four niches rises a small prang with the figure of the Hindu god Narai on his Garuda bird. The high central tower is surrounded by four smaller prang. At the top of the prang there is nopasul and a gold-plated crown.    

Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat is sometimes also called “Giant Swing Temple ” because the frame of a gigantic swing is located in the square in front of the temple. Construction of the wat began under the rule of King Rama I and was completed under the rule of King Rama III. The temple is a replica of Wat Panan Choeng in Ayutthaya, and Wat Suthat is in the middle of the city.  In the temple there is the largest statue from the Sukhothai period, “Phra Si Sakaya Muni” – also called “Phra To (great Buddha)” by the people. This statue was brought to Bangkok from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai.

Things to see in Wat Suthat

In the Royal Vihan is the Phra Sagayamuni. The walls in the Vihan show representations from the life of Buddha and pictures of the “Himalaya Forest”, a motif from Indian literature. There are pictures of people from four continents on the pillars. The representations of these continents follow the descriptions in the Trai Bhum.The wood carvings on the entrance gates are famous. Most of the central door was carved by King Rama II himself. This door is now in the National Museum.In the Bot of Wat Suthat there is a seated Buddha, the “Phra Buddha Trai Lokkanat”. The walls of the Bot show episodes from the life of the Buddha. Some pictures also depict stories from Thai literature, e.g. stories from Ramakien, Sang – Thong.There are no Stupas on the grounds of Wat Suthat. However, there are seven Chedi, a symbolic number of Chedis that already appear in the “Prathom Sompot” of the Buddha’s biography.

In the Sala Kanparien there is the figure of the Phra Buddha Sitmunie. King Rama III had this figure made to celebrate the legal ban on opium consumption.  

Mural Painting

The mural painting in rattanakosin – like the sculptures – follows the later Ayutthaya style. The wall is divided into two parts, namely the upper section above the window line, which represents the heavenly ; The lower section below the window line depicts either episodes from the life of Buddha or stories from the Jatakas. On the wall behind the main Buddha statue, the Buddhist doctrine of the universe, of heaven, earth and hell is usually painted.  

Buddhism

Buddhism in Thailand Around 95% of Thai people are Buddhists, 0.5% belong to Christianity and 3.8% are Muslims. Thais have been Buddhists since the 13th century. Buddhism in its original form is no sacraments, no rites, no magical formulas, no holy institutions or organizations. In the course of its development in Thailand it has been supplemented by many religious beliefs, in particular by Hindu customs.

In the 3rd century BC, Buddhism became the state religion in India under King Asoka the Great. The king sent missionaries all over the world to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Ceylon was one of the main centers of Buddhism. In Thailand it was today’s city of Nakorn Pathom. In India, Buddhism was dissolved by the Shiva cult (Hinduism) from the 7th century onwards.

Buddhism in Thailand – unlike Mahayana Buddhism in China, Tibet, Japan, Vietnam or Korea, is called Hinayan.

The main difference between Hinayan and Mahayana lies in their teaching principle and practice. In Hinayan, (Thailand, Ceylon and Burma) the Buddha’s teachings are strictly followed. In Mahayana (Chaina, Tabet, Bhutan) one does not adhere so strictly to the original Buddhist traditions. Hinaya Buddhism only believes in a Buddha (Siddhata) who is considered a normal person. In Mahayana Buddhism one believes in several Buddhas or saints, all of whom are venerated as the highest and immortals.

The similarities between the two forms of Buddhism lie in the principle of liberation from all desires and in the belief in the law of cause and consequence or in the belief in the “four noble truths”. 

The influence of Buddhism on the life of Thai people

The traditional education of Thai boys has its roots in the monastery. Monks were and are trainers. Many customs and traditions, e.g. working together on the rice field, are based on Buddhist horror, as are many festivals such as the Songkran and Loy Kra Thong festivals, which were originally Brahmanic festivals. The Buddhist influence can also be seen in the functions of the wat, the cultural life of the Thai people and the tradition of entering the monastery. Art and liturature reflect the specific Buddhist worldview of the Thai people.