The grand palace sits right along the Chao Phraya River in Phra Nakon, Bangkok. The palace complex, rather than a single structure, is an assortment of buildings, temples, halls, etc. That is owed to the complex’s additions and rebuilding over its almost 300-year history. King Rama I ordered the start of its construction in 1782, but several rulers have added to it over its lifetime. The complex contains, several sections including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), Inner and Outer courts, among others. The amount of buildings and temples to see is almost overwhelming. So, I’ll split this post into sections, starting with the Wat Phra Kaew.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha | Wat Phra Kaew
When I visited the temple, back at the beginning of the year, I only briefly passed through the ubosot. Even though the ubosot takes up most of the southern section of the complex, I seemed to breeze through. That is also the location of the Emerald Buddha, the temple’s namesake. I’m not sure if it was closed to visitors during the duration I visited, but I was unable to get to it. Its also possible the space was so large I just couldn’t find it. I guess my research before the trip to the temple was lacking. But, that’s why you’re reading this post, so that you can avoid passing up on beautiful places. I did inadvertently take some pictures in/around the ubosot.
Prasat Phra Thep Bidon
King Rama IV originally planned to transfer the Emerald Buddha into the temple. King Rama IV was inspired by the Phrasat Thong in Ayuthaya. King Rama called for the temple’s construction in 1855, but he died before it was completed. Not only did construction end after King Rama IV died, but the temple also burned down not long after completed. It was completely reconstructed by King Rama VI.
Located on the Than Phaithi along with the above monument, the Phra Mondop is considered a library as it holds several sacred texts. It was constructed by King Rama I after the previous structure burned down. The name Mondop comes from the style of architecture in which a religious building is square-shaped/cruciform.
Phra Si Rattana Chedi
Sitting on the western side of the Than Phaithi, the Phra Si Rattana Chedi houses relics of a Buddha from Sri Lanka. The chedi is built of brick masonry; it did not take on its current gold appearance until King Rama VI special ordered gold tile from Italy. Like the Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, the chedi’s architecture was based on Ayuthaya. architecture, specifically the Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
Located on the steps leading up to the Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, the Phra Suvarnachedi are two golden, stepped stupa. King Rama I ordered them to be constructed in dedication to his parents. Around the base, King Rama V ordered monkeys and yaksha (giants) built to “support” the structure. Also pictured below is the Panom Mak to the left, representing “traditional offerings made of banana leaves and flowers”.
Monuments of the Royal Insignia
Scattered throughout the temple complex are four monuments depicting the nine king’s royal insignias. If I had more of an idea of where they were, I would have kept a better eye out. You can play a game and see how many of them you can spot by yourself. I was able to capture a picture of King Rama IV insignia.
Row of Prang
Besides the First Gate, running along the east side of the complex wall from North to South are eight Prang formally known as Phra Atsda Maha Chedi. Each prang represents a different aspect of Buddhism (Noble eightfold path). They were constructed by King Rama I and later covered in delicate porcelain by King Rama III.
Seven Gates and Twelve Guardians
From Wikipedia, “The temple wall has seven gates, two on the east side, one on the south, three on the west and one on the north.” The gates’ names are the: Koei Sadet (front); Na Wua Gate; Phra Sri Ratanasatsada Gate; Hermit Gate; Koei Sadet (rear); Sanam Chai Gate; Wihan Yot. Gate no.4, the Hermit Gate, acts as the main gate for visitors. Gate No.3 at the east wall is located in front of the Than Phaithi and leads visitors towards the exit. Gate No.1 is an important gate constructed by King Rama and located directly in front of the Prasat Phra Thep Bidon. Its usually blocked off to visitors as there is an elephant mounting area used by royalty. Gate No.4 is the Hermit gate, called so because of the hermit statue located in front. It acts as the entrance, greeting visitors.
Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat Group
Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat
The Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat acts of the facade of the whole Prasat group. It’s probably the most iconic and most-well recognized of the grand palace structures. The building architecture is a little eclectic, its bottom portion styled after European renaissance style architecture while its top is in a more traditional, Thai-style with green and orange tiled roofs and gilded “pasats”. Its also the cover photo for this post.
Phra Thinang Aphorn Phimok Prasat
The Phra Thinang Aphorn Phimok Prasat is an open-style pavilion at the east end of the Prasat group. Its located to the right of the Chakri Maha Prasat (when viewed from the front), and is very close to the exit. The pavilion was designed by King Rama IV for the King to change when entering the Maha Prasat premises.