Thursday, November 15, 2007

Landmarks of Bangkok - Temples

Wat Trimitr
The most valuable statue in Thailand, in real worth, is the 5.5 tonnes of solid gold seated Buddha image at Wat Trimitr. Reaching to a height of 3 meters, the glittering golden image has come a long and wondrous way. Researchers theorise that the image was cast some 700 years ago during the Sukhothai period. The gleaming, apparently seamless body was ingeniously crafted in five interlocking parts with a master key to unlock the pieces.
When Sukhothai was succeeded by Ayutthaya as the capital, the image was transported to the new seat of government. As Ayutthaya was being besieged by powerful Burmese invaders bent on sacking the city, the image was encased in stucco turning it into a homely looking piece of Buddha image. The ruse worked. When Ayutthaya fell, the Burmese looters did not bother to lay their hands on the stucco image.
When the new capital city was founded at Bangkok, a salvaging party shipped the stucco image to a remote riverside Bangkok temple where it was left in oblivion in for over a century. About half a century ago, the temple was relocated to make way for the present Port of Bangkok and the image was trundled off to the present Wat Trimitr. Twenty years later, Wat Trimitr's abbot decided to find proper housing for the outcast image and had it shifted to a temporary shelter. The crane slipped, dropping it to the soft ground, and opened a crack in the stucco image.
During the night, heavy rain struck. Worrying about the damage to the image, the abbot had a strange dream. He saw bright rays of light emitting from the stucco image. Early in the morning, he inspected the image closely and actually glimpsed through the crack the shiny metal sheen inside.
The Buddha is so shiny that there was no way of photographing it, as the flash literally bounced off the gold.Wat PhoWat Pho also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, Thailand, located in the Rattanakosin district directly adjacent to the Grand Palace. At 20 acres large, it is the largest Wat in Bangkok, and is technically the oldest too, as it was built around 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand's capital.
Wat Pho is also famous as Thailand's first university, and is center for traditional Thai massage - the rich, famous and powerful have all been known to come here. Inscribed on stone in the walls of Wat Pho are all that was known about Thai massage dating from the reign of King Rama III.Temple of the Dawn
Wat Arun better known as the Temple of the Dawn, is one of the best known landmarks and one of the most published images of Bangkok. It consists of a massive elongated prang (Khmer-style tower), and is surrounded by four smaller prangs. The prang is described by the Tourism Authority of Thailand as 104m high. It is decorated by bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China, a hallmark of the reign of King Rama III. The Wat had a brief period as host of the celebrated Emerald Buddha, which now resides in nearby Wat Phra Kaew.
The Wat really looks better from a distance than close up, and you're not missing out too much even if you only view from across the river. The grounds are fairly pleasant and peaceful though, with good murals and a main Buddha image supposedly designed by King Rama II. The mythical guardians here are also quite impressive, though very similar to those at Wat Phra Kaew.

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