Wats Of Bangkok

By Sanjeev Nayyar [email protected] | 2009

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Bangkok has got some amazing Wats. You see picture of Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of Emerald Buddha. It is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It is part of the Grand Palace. You can see more pictures on a separate link in Thailand collection only.

Walk about 10 minutes from the Grand Palace entrance to the jetty on the bank of Chao Phraya river. Take a boat across the river 3 baht to reach Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). You see board outside temple. It once enshrined the Emerald Buddha (moved out in 1784) and another important image. King Taksin arrived at this temple as dawn was breaking which motivated him renovate the place and changed name of Wat Chaeng meaning Temple of Dawn.

The temple is built on an architectural pattern that symbolically reproduces Mount Meru, sacred mountain in Hindu mythology that both Hindus and Buddhists think of as the center of the universe. Images of the Hindu gods of the four directions sit at the four corners of the 260 foot prang (an elongated cone shaped tower). The corners are surrounded by 4 smaller prangs which are dedicated to the wind God Phra Phai.

A closer and better view of the prang. The prang has got huge steps, is at quite a height. You need some energy to climb up as you shall see later. This temple was built when Bangkok was ruled from the city of Ayutthaya. The prang is equivalent to Indian gopurams. The smaller prang shows an image seated on a horse in which case the image might be Lord Surya. The taller prang has an image seated on a elephant in which case the image might be Lord Indra. There appears some similiarity between the headgear of girls who dance at Erawan shrine and the prang design - there could be some connection.

A side view of the prang to give you an idea of the elevation. 6 green granite pavilions stand at the river bank on the temple grounds to welcome visitors.

A close up view of the prang. In the centre are elephants. There is a image on top of the elephants. Since they are elephants the image sitting on it is that of Lord Indra (his vehicle is Airavata, an elephant). Wish had taken a close up.

Another view of the prang clicked while lying on the ground. The temple`s Khmer-styled prang is decorated with bits of Chinese porcelain that trading ships brought along. Best time to click pictures is sunset rather than sunrise. I went in the afternoon so pics have their limitations. The broken pieces of porcelain give it a shining look in sunlight.

The steps up the prang are very steep, be careful.

Some other viharans (assemly hall) are part of the complex. You see one of them. Note the manner in which the roof is made.

You see a Buddha image inside one viharan.

This viharan that you see is Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is the birthplace of the original Thai massage.

Entrance is from the rear side. Before entered saw number of Thais praying to the nine images of Buddha. Saw similar images in Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai`s wats as well.

You see image of reclining Buddha from head to his feet. Image is 46 metres long, 15 metres high and covered in golden leaf.

Image of reclining Buddha clicked from the other end. The feet are 3 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother of pearl illustrations of auspicious `laksanas (characteristics) of the Buddha. The bottom of Buddha`s feat are intricately decorated with 108 auspicious scenes in Chinese and Indian styles. Missed taking a picture of only Buddha`s feet.

Close up of the face and hand of reclining Buddha.

As I walked around the reclining Buddha room saw people making change and keeping one bath into each black bowl. It is a way of showing compassion for the needy.

Hand and head of reclining Buddha.

The complex has a number of pagodas that you see which have ashes of renowed monks.

A viharan, notice the wood work and color with pagodas in the background.

A close up of the viharan top. The scene depicts shows from the Ramayana, war between the monkeys and Ravana`s army. clicking a picture, sit down and pray for a few minutes, then leave.

Buddha image inside one of the viharans, highly revered by people. I was told that do not walk away from the Buddha after

Board outside Wat Suthat. It is one of the oldest temples with a sweeping elegant rook and site of the original Giant Swing ceremony. King Rama I founded the temple at the central area of the city at that time. The main hall was completed in the reign of King Rama III. Then the orindation hall was built with principal Buddha image.

This is a truly imposing Wat and a must see. It is quite close from the Emerald Buddha and stone`s throw from the Brahmin and Vishnu temples. Road close to this wat has shops that sell images of Buddha. The grey tall structures that you see in front remind of Deepsthamb (oil lamps are placed in these used for lighting) in Indian temples. What you see is the principal viharan (assembly hall). Traditionally in India deepsthambs have 108 lamps.

Buddha image inside this viharan. Of all the Buddha images and assembly halls that I saw during 7 day trip to Thailand this one stirred me. Felt very cool, calm, serene when I sat down here as if no event could disturb me.

When I went on day one the tuk tuk driver took me from another entrance. I saw lines of monks sitting what looked like correcting examination papers. The entire wall had Buddha images like these, some golden others black.

There are two assembly halls, the one first one you saw this Buddha image is in the second hall. It is 8 metres. Note the wall paintings behind which depict the Jataka Tales - the previous 24 lives of Buddha.

Next to Wat Suthat is the Giant Swing or Sao Chincha. Its design and original function is suitable to the swinging ceremony held according to the belief of Brahmanism which is well known in ancient Siamese courts. Built in 1784 the original was much smaller. Swinging festival was held for welcoming Lord Siva and Vishnu when they came down to visit the human world in the 2nd lunar month. The festival was part of Triyampanai, a Brahmin ceremony.

After that went to Wat Mahathat, an important centre for the study of Buddhism and meditation. It is the heaquarters of Thailand`s largest monastic order and Vipassna Meditation centre. You see Buddha image inside the Wat.

This wat too has over 150 Buddha images all along the outer wall of the Wat. You see a black image being cleaned that would eventually become golden like others. Visit the National Museum close by (good) and Vimanmek Royal Mansion (world`s largest building made entirely of golden teak).

This is Wat Traimit - The Temple of Golden Buddha China Town. Reached at 3.30pm so could not get good image. The 3 metre high Buddha image looks rather average but attracts lots of tourists.

A photograph of current King and Queen outside the Grand Palace. King name is King Rama IX. The Thais respect their King very much.

What I liked about Bangkok are these road side stalls. They serve fruits, food and what not. The best part is the food is clean and cheap. Eat here and imbibe the spirit of Bangkok.

I stayed at Hotel Citadenes on Sukumvit 8. Very good rooms, centrally located, close to Nana sky train station and tube. Serve a sumptous breakfast which doubled up as my lunch. Loved the place.

The rooms are spacious. Has broadband as well. Toilets are clean. Also has a mini-kitchen if you like to cook. To book rooms Click here

I was happy to see logo of India`s Aditya Birla Group at Mahatun Plaza while walking from Sukumwit to Erawan shrine. Truly enjoyed my 7 day stay in Thailand. Thai people are very nice and helpful. If you asked them a question and they did not know English they looked around for someone who knew, ask question in Thai, who then gave u a reply in English.

Board at Suvarnabhumi Airport. When you see land before immigration on your right see 150 foot long mural of Sagar-manthan or the mythical churning of the oceans. I saw it but did not have my camera (was in the bag). Suvarnabhumi means `Land of Gold`. Have taken care in writing narrations. In case of any errors, apologies please write to me.