Let’s continue our exploration of Bangkok from some of the most famous temples in the city. Temples in Bangkok are an endless number, the real main attractions. They characterize the skyline of the city, appearing suddenly between skyscrapers. There is always, in every corner of this metropolis, a strong connection between modernity and tradition, and this gives charm to the streets of the chaotic city center. Im my opinion, visiting temples is hightly recommended noth only for the historical sides, but also ’cause it gives you such a peaceful and warm feeling inside. Here a short presentation of some of the temples we visited:
MARBLE TEMPLE (Wat Benchamabophit)
Located in the Dusit District, the construction of the temple began in 1899: literally the name means “Temple of the fifth King located nearby Dusit Palace”. Designed by Prince Naris, half-brother of the king, is built of Italian marble. It’s unusual for a temple to show elements made by Carrara marble, such as pillars, a marble courtyard and two big singhas (lions) guarding the entrance to the bòht (ordination hall), but it’s not all that surprising when you consider how enamoured Rama V was with Europe. The windows outwardly are framed by gold carvings, in striking contrast to the sparkling white marble walls, like also the red-terraced roofs, with golden details on the edges.
The interiors are decorated with crossbeams of lacquer and gold, and the walls are painted in gold&white pattern all around the royal blue wall behind the central Buddha image, which guards the ashes of King Rama V, buried beneath the statue. The silent cloister around the temple houses 53 stunning images of Buddha. All around the main building there is a nice walkway with red bridges crossing the canals filled of blooming lotus, and Buddha statues guarding the Temple. Just an heavenly place where get lost, especially early in the morning, with just few tourists around.
WAT PHO (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Buddhist temple complex in the Phra Nakhon District – one of the ancient in Bangkok – is located in the Rattanakosin Island, near the famous Grand Palace. The temple is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 meters long reclining Buddha. The temple was also the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and houses a school of Thai medicine. It is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple.
The chapel and the reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas) were built by Rama III in 1832. The image of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. The figure is 15 mt high and 46 mt long, and it’s one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand. The right arm of the Buddha supports the head with tight curls, which rests on two box-pillows richly encrusted with glass mosaics. I was curious to know what’s inside the imposing statue, and they tell us that the figure has a brick core, which was modelled and shaped with plaster, then gilded.
The soles of the feet of the Buddha – just as imponent as the body -, are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified, such as flowers, white elephants, tigers, etc. At the center of each foot, a circle represents a chakra or energy point. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha: visitors may drop coins in these bowls as it’s believed to bring good fortune – and it also helps the monks to maintain the wat -. That’s why during the visit you’ll be accompanied by a constant, jingling, characteristic sound.
to be continued..