Bangkok

Wat Phra Kaew — Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Wat Phra Kaew

Not far from the Grand Royal Palace in Bangkok is the main Buddhist shrine with fantastic architecture – the Wat Phra Kaew temple complex. The Emerald Buddha is the most sacred symbol of the country and the spiritual core of Thai Buddhism and the monarchy.

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Wat Phra Kaew on map

Overview of Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew Temple Complex

At the entrance to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha stands yaksha, a muscular giant guardian from the national epic Ramakien (Thai version of the Indian Ramayana). Yaksha guards the entrance to the Hall of Initiation, where the Emerald Buddha himself is located.

Giant guardian Yaksha Totsakan, a character in the Thai epic Ramakien, at Wat Phra Keo in the Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand

The main shrine of Wat Phra Kaew Temple – the Emerald Buddha – looks rather modest compared to the luxurious surrounding decoration – the statue is only 66 cm high and sits on a high gilded throne surrounded by incense and offerings from parishioners. The Emerald Buddha is solemnly dressed in traditional monastic robes according to the seasons and the King of Thailand himself still solemnly changes his vestments at the beginning of each season.

The statue of the Emerald Buddha in robes for the rainy season is the main shrine of Thailand

Wat Phra Keo Temple is an active religious shrine, so it is better to adhere to a strict dress code when visiting the attraction: long sleeves, covered shoulders, trousers or skirts below the knees. It is customary to visit the temple without shoes.

There is no exact information about the origin of the shrine: the Emerald Buddha first appeared in the 15th century in the city of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. Stylistically, it seems that it belongs to the Thai artistic period of the 13th-14th centuries.According to one version, the statue was made of solid stone by the personal master of the Indian ruler Ashoka, the second branch of origin leads to the authorship of an ancient Greek craftsman, and the third says that the statue was created by the gods, and then lowered to earth.The material from which the deity is made is not reliably known: whether it is an emerald, jade or jadeite – versions are based on guesswork and there is no direct evidence of legitimacy.

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March 27, 2024

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