Temples and Spiritual Sites

THE GRAND PALACE

Probably the most visited and remembered landmark of Thailand, The Grand Palace in Bangkok is where every visitor must pay a visit at least once in their lifetime. The construction of the Grand Palace began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty, to become a royal residence, and it has been the utmost architectural symbol of Thailand ever since. The Grand Palace served as a significant royal residence until 1925 and is now used for ceremonial purposes only.
 
The Grand Palace is divided into three main zones: The Outer Court, home to royal offices, public buildings and the Temple of Emerald Buddha; the Middle Court, which is where the most important residential and state buildings are; and the Inner Court, which is exclusively reserved for the king, his queen and his consorts. The major attraction of the Outer Court is the Temple of Emerald Buddha, the residence of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist sculpture: Phra Kaeo Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), which was carved from flawless green jade, situated amid gold-gilded sculptures and ornaments, and fresco paintings of the main ordination hall.
 
 
SRI MAHA MARIAMMAN TEMPLE
 
At the center of Bangkok, one over-100-years Hindu temple is situated on the Silom road which is one of the hectic business areas in Thailand. This temple is also known as Wat Khaek or Uma Devi temple following the principle Buddha image of the temple.  The name of the temple reflects the founder’s belief of Shakti which mainly dedicates to Goddess Mariamman.
 
The Hindu Goddess Mariamman or Mother Mari is God Siva’s queen. She is the goddess of mercy and elegance when she is Mother Mari’s form. Many devotees worship her and pray for good wishes. At this Hindu temple, besides the statue of Sri Maha Mariamman, there are also the statues of other Hindu Gods and Goddesses including God's Ganesh, Bramha, Vishnu, Lord Thendayuthapani, Sri Mahalakshmi and Sri Saraswathi.
 
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is open for a visit and a pray every day with an appropriate dress regulation. No food is allowed. There are flower stalls close to the temple, selling flowers, flower garlands, fruits and foods for ceremonies. 
 
 
WAT ARUN (TEMPLE OF DAWN)
 
The statuesque pagoda of Wat Arun, or The Temple of Dawn, on the bank of Chao Phraya has always been the most remembered scene of Bangkok’s skyline for ages. It is believed that Wat Arun was built during Ayutthaya era and is better known from its other name: Wat Chaeng, which means the Temple of Dawn.
 
The temple was redecorated for the first time when King Taksin relocated the capital city from Ayutthaya to Thonburi in 1767, and built a palace near where the temple is. Wat Chaen or Wat Makok was officially renamed in the reign of King Rama II as Wat Arun Ratchatharam (means Temple of Dawn) but the grand pagoda wasn’t completed until the reign of King Rama III. During the reign of King Rama IV, he ordered to move the royal ash of KIng Rama II to store here, as well as refurbished and redecorated several structures of the temple. When the renovation completed he renamed the temple Wat Arun Ratchawararam (also means Temple of Dawn), which is the temple current official name.
 
The main highlight of Wat Arun is undoubtedly the grand pagoda, or prang in Thai. Influenced by Khmer-style pagoda, the 67-meter-tall pagoda is made of cement covered by million pieces of China porcelains. It is surrounded by four smaller pagodas. Wat Arun is also involved in the Royal Barge Procession as the temple is where the king would travel by river to deliver new robes to the monks at the end of the Buddhist Lent period.
 
 
WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT
 
Wat Benchama Bophit Dusitvanaram (aka. The Marble Temple) is regarded one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, thanks to its traditional Thai symmetrical architecture designed by Prince Naris, a son of King Rama IV and one of the greatest architects during his time, and fine marble imported from Italy. Inside the main ordination hall sees the sacred Phra Buddha Chinnarat image, reproduced from the original image in Phitsanuloke, which is also considered a Buddha image with the most beautiful figures. Visit the temple in the wearly morning to see local people offering alms to the monks according to Thai traditional folkway.
 
 
WAT KALAYANAMIT WORAMAHAWIHARN
 
Wat Kalayanamit Worahamawiharn (Wat Kalaya) is a second class royal temple in ‘Woramahawiharn’ type. It is located beside Chao Phraya river, Thonburi side, around the mouth of Bangkok Yai canal. Initially, Chao Phraya Nikorn Bodin (Toh Kalayanamit) donated his house to Somdet Phra Nang Klao Chao Yu Hua (King Rama III), and bought the additional land nearby to build a temple in 1825. The king bestowed the name to the temple as “Wat Kalayanamit”.
 
Later, he built a royal wiharn, and also the principle Buddha image to enshrine inside, which is Luang Por Toh (or Phra Buddha Trai Rattanayok). The king aimed to model the size and the location of the statue to resemble the enormous Buddha statue by the river in Wat Panan Choeng from the old capital. Luang Por Toh has been highly revered by Chinese people, they call him in Chinese name as ‘Sam Por Hug Kong’ or ‘Sam Por Kong’. This Buddha image was made from plaster, in ‘Marn Vichai’ posture (subduing Mara). The statue is 10 meters 3 cubits wide, 14 meters 2 cubits high 10 inches. Phrabat Somdet Phra Nang Klao Chao Yu Hua ordered the construction to Chao Phraya Nikorn Bodin on May 18th 1837. Luang Por Toh is enshrined in the gigantic wiharn in the center of the temple, between a small wiharn and Phra Ubosot. In front of the royal wiharn is a bell tower, which preserves the biggest bell in Thailand.
 
Inside Phra Ubosot, (smaller to the wiharn), there is where the Buddha image in ‘Palilai’ posture (Buddha sitting position with legs simply hanging down, left handed palm on his knee) built by King Rama III. Wat Kalayanamit is the only the temple in Thailand that has the principle Buddha image in Palilai posture. Inside, there are mural paintings depicting biography of Lord Buddha, and villagers’ way of life during the reign of King Rama III. In the temple area, there is Hor Phra Tham Monthian Thaloeng Phrakiat (Buddhist library) where Pali Buddhist scriptures have been kept as well. Wat Kalayanamit Woramahawiharn, not only holds cultural value, but also immensely holds historical value, and Thai societal value.
 
 
WAT CHANA SONGKRAM
 
Wat Chana Songkram is located on Chakra Pong Road, Bang Lampu, Phra Nakorn District, near Khaosan Road, and Pinklao bridge, Bangkok. The history of this temple traces back to when Somdet Phra Phutta Yod Fah Chulalok Maharaj, the first king of Chakri dynasty, aimed to establish a kingdom that resembled Ayutthaya kingdom as much as he could.
 
Wat Chana Songkram is situated near the royal Palace. It was built in Ayutthaya period, with no any evidence regarding its construction history. Initially, it was called “Wat Klang Na” (or the temple in the middle of the rice farm). King Rama took it under the renovation, and bestowed a new proper name of the temple as ‘Wat Tong Pu’. He appointed Wat Chana Songkram to be the temple for Raman or Mon monks, similar to Wat Tong Pu in Ayutthaya period. The king aimed to praise those Raman soldiers in the army of Somdet Phra Bovornraratchao Maha Surasinghanat, who was the major force fighting against Burmese in the Nine Armies War (Burmo-Siamese War) in 1785, and also battles at Ta Din Daeng, and Sam Sop (1786), and Nakorn Lampang Pasang old city (1787). Subsequently, Prince  Maha Surasinghanat restored Wat Tong Pu, and donated to King Rama I. The king then lifted it to be the royal monastery, and bestowed a new name as “Wat Chana Songkram” (the temple of ) in commemoration of the victory of Prince Maha Surasinghanat who defeated the Burmese army 3 times.
 
Later, Wat Chana Songkram has been continuously renovated, especially during the reign of King Mongkut (King Rama VI). He first begun building ash containers for the royal members in Prince of the Rear Palace’s family, and situated them at the back balcony of Phra Ubosot, as the initiatives of Phra Chula Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua (King Rama V). Queen Somdet Phra Sri Patcharin had granted her own assets to Prince Kritsada Piniharn Krom Phra Nares Worarit to run the construction. However, the construction was completed in the reign of Phrabat Somdet Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, who donated his wealth to the Royal Institute in establishing the temple. In that time, Prince Krom Phraya Damrong Rachanupab was the minister of the Royal Institute, and Prince Krom Phraya Narisara Nuwattiwong carried out the project. After that, a ceremony of transporting the ash containers of the royal members from the rear palace to the temple was held in 1927.