|Location:||Grand Palace Complex|
|Nature:||Thai Buddhist Temple|
|Other Names:||Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Temple of the Holy Jewel Image, Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram|
|Opening Hours:||8.30 am – 3.30 pm|
Wat Phra Kaeo is a highly revered shrine of Bangkok and is the only monastery in Thailand that does not house any residential monk. Rather, the place serves the function of a personal chapel of the royal family. The tradition of building a temple in the palace compound has been observed as early as the Sukothai period. So, when King Rama I shifted his capital to Bangkok in 1782, the Wat Phra Kaeo saw erection in the eastern section of the royal precincts of the Grand Palace. The monastery, along with the Grand Palace, today presents one of the most magnificent architectural spectacles for Thailand visitors.
Aside from its structural beauty, the temple is popular for yet another reason. The main Ubosoth (Ordination Hall) houses the venerated image of the Emerald Buddha, considered as a form of amulet by the Thais. Therefore, the temple is also known as ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’. However, unlike the name, the dark green image is not made of emerald, but green jadeite or jasper. This 2-ft tall statue of the Buddha is perched high atop a gilded altar and holds tremendous religious implication for the Thais.
The hall in which the statue is enshrined contains Late Ayutthaya-style murals, depicting the various phases of Buddha’s life, the cycle beginning with the birth of the Buddha, emblazoned in the middle of the left wall. The surrounding porch of the main altar is equally magnificent and the door panels are detailed with beautiful mother-of-pearl decorations. Besides, three pagodas flank the north of the Ubosoth. There is also a sacred black stone statue of a hermit towards the west of the hall, frequented by devotees seeking good health.
The surrounding walls depict various scenes from the Ramakian and the five-meter high giants (yaks) and monkey kings inside the temple area are equally noteworthy. Besides, one of the most important highlight is the costume-changing ritual, where the King changes Buddha’s robes three times a year. During the summer, the statue is decked with a crown and jewelry. In the winter, a golden shawl drapes the statue and during the monsoons, it is covered in gilded robe of a monk. Thus, with its religious significance and dazzling beauty, Wat Phra Kaew finds place as the holiest of all shrines in Bangkok.