Buddha Temples in Bangkok (Thailand)

                                                                                           (The Golden Buddha Temple)

Buddhism has been Thailand’s dominant philosophy for more than two thousand years, with about majority of the population supporting an estimated 27000 temples, nationwide. The three most magnificent temples of the Golden Buddha, the Emerald Buddha, and the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok are perhaps a sufficient indication to that.

Our driver himself was the guide; it was absolutely essential to have a local person with us because communicating with a Thai is really very difficult due to their uncomfortable ness in spoken English.

We carried a city map that showed the famous temples of Lord Buddha. We started with the most famous temple of the Golden Buddha, the Wat (Temple) Traimit. Located at the end of the Yaowarat road near the Hualamphong station, it is one of Bangkok’s most popular attractions and home to the world’s largest Golden Buddha. I was awestruck; the image was huge and was made of 75% pure gold. From the tourism point of view, the temple is nice but the surrounding area is the ‘china town’ of Bangkok and is  highly commercialized with local food courts and shops selling various articles starting from local Thai clothing to porcelain crockery, naturally spoiling the serenity of the place, to some extent. Even then, Budhha always brings peace of mind and after our visit  and moved on to the Grand palace and its adjoining temple complex hosting the Wat Pra Keo or the “Temple of the Emerald Buddha”.

(The Golden Buddha)

(The Emerald Buddha Temple)

This temple is the most sacred chapel and entry to this shrine was strictly on bare feet. At any time of the year when the temperature was more than 35’c,walking bare feet during midday was difficult! Even though the temple premises was just marvelous, the compound was so full of tourists that we spent half the time avoiding getting people into our photos and vice versa. The place consists of over hundred brightly coloured buildings, golden spires and glittering mosaics. The temple houses the tiny Emerald Buddha, which is between 60 to 75 cms and is located high above the heads of worshippers and tourists. Not much is known for certain about the statue, except that it is not actually made of emerald but rather of green jade or jasper and the idol is perched high up inside a glass box. His Majesty, the King himself, changes the ‘robe’ that the Buddha wears, thrice each year at the start of each season; a diamond encrusted gold robe during the hot season, a solid gold robe during the cold season and a gilded monk’s robe during the rainy season.

Outside the temple, a statue of the Emerald Buddha in his seasonal attire is available for sale; definitely a superb souvenir. Despite its national importance, this is the only temple in Thailand that does not have any resident monks, and so is not a seat of Buddhist learning in the same way like the other temples.

(The Emerald Buddha)

Out of the temple complex we headed for the last and supposedly the most unique and gorgeous form of Lord Buddha. Wat Po, as it is commonly called is mainly famous for the huge Reclining Buddha statue. The largest Wat in Bangkok, technically the oldest too, was
built around 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand’s capital. The highly impressive gold plated reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and15 meters high, and is designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into ‘nirvana’. The feet and the eyes are engraved
with mother-of-pearl decoration, and the feet also show the 108 auspicious characteristics of the true Buddha.  We jostled inside the heavily crowded temple, once again, bare feet! Beautiful, it was, goes without saying. The dreamy eyes of the Lord gave a subtle sense of security and peace and it seemed to bring peace around the entire surrounding. Buddhism is known for teaching a system of belief very differently than any other culture or religion of the world.

(Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

(The Reclining Buddha)
Preaching of peace has always been the first preference in this belief and so, the World wonders, why is Bangkok burning? After visiting the important shrines and temples, it was easier for us to relate to the fundamental aspects of Buddhism that gave a unique outlook on life and changed the thought process of lots.

Absolutely refreshed in mind with Buddha’s philosophy and belief and with our temple tour coming to an end for the day, we decided to settle on the shiny green coconuts, sold abundantly in front of the temple. The best choice for quenching thirst on a hot and humid sultry day in Bangkok.