Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Grand Palace and The Emerald Budda

This formidable looking character is one of the "guards" near the entrance to the Grand Palace.
Our Guide, Leena, has told us that one must-see sight no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, is the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government - the Grand Palace of Bangkok is an amazing sight to see!   Its beautiful architecture and intricate details are a of proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. 

This is a positively huge complex and it is virtually impossible to see all of it in just one visit.  On the day we were visiting it was the 80th Anniversary of Democracy in Thailand, and the crowds were amazing.  The Thai people are not charged to visit the Palace as visitors are, because the Government wants all of them to be able to appreciate this grand treasure.  And rightly they should!  I can only include a few of the many, many pictures we took while visiting here.  Every corner turned presents another amazing and beautiful vista.  Gold, mirrors, beautiful plants and paintings are everywhere.  It is eye candy on a grand scale for anyone who might be interested in Asian Architecture!  The Emerald Budda is one of the treasures housed within the walls of this massive complex.  Although we were not allowed to take photographs within the Temple, we were allowed to visit there. 
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.
The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north, dating from the 15th century AD.

Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed three times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season covers the statue. A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple of  Emerald Buddha is beautifully decorated and has a great sense of peace about it.  The Temple where it is housed is incredibly beautiful and all those mirrored tiny mosaic tiles hand placed perfectly is mind boggling!  Note that there are no shoes worn once you enter the steps of the building...they must be removed and left on racks outside the steps.  When you cross the actual threshold into the temple your must step over about a 4 inch rise (it is said this keeps the demons from entering) as you enter.

The view when you enter is breathtaking!  The Emerald Budda is elevated at the far wall and is dressed according to season.  His robe had just been changed to Winter on the week we were in Bangkok.   The fierce lion at left is just one of many guarding the entrance to the Temple.  I can't begin to show you here how much variety and beauty is available for viewing within the walls of the Grand Palace.  It is simply a Must SEE!

This hallways is lined with these little golden figures..the detail and symmetry is amazing.  The way all of this is maintained is absolutely mind boggling.

The local Thai people seemed to appreciate the architecture and beauty as much as we foreigners did on the day we visited.  There were Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Parents and Children of all ages present to share this experience.  There are several areas where there is evidence of European influence within the walls of the Grand Palace.  As you can see with the building on the bottom left with its columns and angles completely different from the usual Thai look.  

  There are beautiful and spacious gardens and open areas scattered between all the various buildings in the compound considered a part of the Grand Palace.  The variety and beauty are endless.

There are little areas where you can pick up a cold drink.  Thank goodness, because on the day we were there it was over 90 degrees and very humid!
I just couldn't resist taking picture after picture of all the beautiful architecture and scenery in this beautiful location. Spirit houses of various sizes and colors.  Spires and columns and beautiful paintings adorned the inner corridors of the buildings.
These colorful paintings depicted various stories and legends about battles between good and evil and how good always triumphed over the evil demons and warriors.

This man was a craftsman who cut tiny tiny pieces of mother of pearl to inlay in the gigantic doors of the Temple.  Also note the beautiful painted porcelain tiles on the stairways.  Everywhere you looked there was another form of art visible.
Everywhere I turned I wanted to take one more picture.  From the beautiful sculptured gardens, to the soaring towers and mirrored columns.  

But we had one more Budda to visit, and it was nearly lunch time.....so out the gate of the Palace we went to explore more of Bangkok!


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