Friday, April 19, 2024

Beautiful Bangkok - Chanting Monks, Buddha In Recline And A Sparkling Green Stone Buddha

What is there not to love about Bangkok? It’s a busy, vibrant city, but without the bedlam of wonderful-in-its-own-way Mumbai. It WAS actually hotter than Mumbai and Kerala, but there are so many great places to visit, you just have to forget about the heat (and the even worse humidity). The best thing would have been to spend three months in Bangkok during the nicer winter months. But we were determined to make the most of 3 days in REALLY hot weather (but we’re not going to talk about that...much.)

The main sites are spectacular. 

Note - Wat means temple and there are gazillions of them in Thailand.

Hint to visitors – Bring socks with you on any outing. Shoes have to be removed in every temple and other places too. Walking barefoot on the HOT stone or tile steps up to the temple is torture 🤯, so shove the socks somewhere, so that you always have them. 

Wat Phra is a Buddhist temple within the grounds of the Grand Palace. It’s the home of the Emerald Buddha and the most sacred temple in Thailand. You’re told way in advance no shorts, nothing sleeveless, no sandals, no short skirts, no tight clothes, which was a bit of a challenge in sticky weather that felt like 105 degrees, but well worth it to see it all.

Unfortunately, no pictures can be taken inside this temple. These pictures were taken from the outside and the closest I could get to the Emerald Buddha with a camera. The Buddha does look green when you see it in person. (The statue gets a different robe 3 times a year, changed by the king.) 


Interestingly, this Emerald Buddha is quite small and actually constructed from grey-green jasper, not emerald. It is surprising that it’s only 26 inches tall, but it sits on an almost 30 foot pedestal. It was put in place in 1784, when the grounds were built by King Rama 1 as he established the capital in Bangkok. But the figure is much older than that and Buddhists believe that Buddha figures are more sacred the older they are. Every king has sworn allegiance to it. (The current king is Rama 10.)

This is the outside of the building.


Here are statues of different beings who guard the temple against evil spirits.

There are many buildings and chedis, sometimes called stupas, within the Grand Palace grounds. Chedis are dome or bell-shaped structures which are found at every temple site. Sometimes they hold relics of ancient spiritual beings, perhaps even Buddha himself, and sometimes they act as mausoleums or they're used as meditation spots. 




Wat Pho is spectacular and we had a really unique experience. We got there well before 9 and entered the temple with the monks coming in for their morning prayers. We got to hear them chanting, being led by an older monk, who actually arrived a little late to the proceedings. It was interesting to see how nimble he was, getting up on the platform and sitting cross legged with no problem. Incredibly you can film anything. 

The main Buddha in Wat Pho sits on massive gold altar and sparkles amongst a huge grouping of other golden Buddhas and statues. 

Another impressive sight was the Reclining Buddha. Oh my word, it’s huge! It’s 150 feet long and 50 feet high. Pictures don’t do it justice and even your own eyeballs can’t really take in the entire thing in one glance. 

The pavilion housing this Buddha was built by Rama III in 1832. And if you thought the body was big, the feet are enormous at 10 feet by 15 feet!  The bottoms of his feet have 108 sacred symbols – representing the 108 virtues of Buddha.

Running along the side of the building is an installation of 108 bowls. It’s believed that if you drop a coin into each bowl, you will have good luck.  

There are so many sights in both Wat Po and Wat Phra. I could go back tomorrow and spend ages in both.


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