Written by Shirley T
Thursday, 09 October 2008 04:08
Known as top tourist attraction, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew were among the top three itineraries in our Bangkok visit. Having said that, it took us two days and three attempts to reach The Grand Palace after we had arrived in Bangkok! If you read my previous article, we were somehow being diverted by the touts on our first and second attempt to reach this significant landmark of Bangkok.
As soon as we saw the signboard and Grand Palace buildings (from our wild guess) by the road side, we quickly asked the cab driver to stop right after the three elephants statue round about.
After paying 100 Baht, we headed towards the tall white walled compound. What a relief, our mission was almost complete. Learning from experience, this time we asked a tourist the location of the entrance door. She was very helpful, taking out her travel book and shared with us her guess. We were actually in the same boat . Referring to the crowds and tourist buses, we kept walking towards that direction and finally, The Grand Palace was right ahead of us. We made it eventually!
Wow...it is indeed a very huge compound. Grandeur although it was only a peep from side wall matched with its name - The Grand Palace.
There were loads of tourist from many different origins including Japanese, Taiwanese and Caucasians. If you are traveling on your own and need a personal tour guide, please approach those guys with tags near the entrance before the ticketing counter. Another item to remember, put on clothing with sleeves and at ankle length (e.g. long trouser) as entering the ground of Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha required strict dress code. If desperate, the polite attires are available on loan (with some deposit) at Customer Service building - opposite the green flat ground.
Open for visiting from 8:30 am - 5:30 pm with the last tour entry is by 3:30 pm. Ticket is sold for 300 Baht, including the entrance fee to Vimanmek Mansion within seven days of Grand Palace visit. An English leaflet was also distributed after the ticket counter. If you are not in rush, read the moment you receive as this leaflet is as good as a tour guide. The information is sufficient for self-guided tour in The Grand Palace. Since we arrived early, we took a slow stroll and joined the sea of people into the designated area of Grand Palace. I was stunned. Only one word to describe - impressive! Click here to see the map of The Grand Palace complex.
Grand Palace complex covers an area of 218,000 square meters by the four tall walls. Established in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, it houses the royal residence, throne halls, government offices and the renowned Temple of Emerald Buddha after the capital of Thailand was moved from Thonburi to Bangkok. This royal compound has since then known as Grand Palace.
The visiting area allowed is roughly half of the actual Grand Palace complex compound and it could easily take more than two hours. If you have love Thai or Khmer architecture, Thai belief/history/culture, Dhamma (Teachings of Buddha) study, mural painting or photography, I'd suggest you to allow a longer buffer.
The walls of ordination hall are decorated with mural paintings. From the south west corner above the window frames, there are a series of painting illustrating selected significant events of the Lord Buddha's life including his birth, childhood, youth and renouciation. Murals on the east wall facing the high altar demonstrate some scenes of temptation and Buddha's enlightenment. Along the north wall, the mural displays Buddha's preaching and the stage of Buddha entering Nirvana. Each painting portrays a profound and interesting story and at some stretch, I took more than a few minutes to understand.
The upper terrace (picture below) is where the prominent golden chedi (Phra Si Rattana chedi) that resembles a bell shape is located.
Nearby is the Phra Mondop, a repository of Buddhist scriptures inscribed on palm leaves within a beautiful mother pearls, miniature of Angkor Wat, elephant statues and some mythical beings.
Before leaving this section, take off your shoes and have a look at the Buddha image inside the Temple of Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha that was first discovered in a stupa in Chiang Rai (1434) is in fact carved from jade. At the beginning, the Buddha image was covered with plaster until one day, the abbot found that the plaster on the nose had flaked off revealing a green stone underneath that was thought as emerald. That's how the legend of Emerald Buddha image began.
The second section, I'd call them the modern looking buildings. They include Phra Maha Monthian group, Chakri (the current royal Thai dynasty) group and Dusit group. Each group offers an interesting history and a walk inside is definitely worth while.
Thank you Grace for contributing some of the pictures in this article.
The next destination is Wat Pho - stay tune!
Did not find what you are looking for? Do a search...
(Type what you are looking for in the textbox below)
Flower Arrangement Series
Like flowers, want to get creative? Step by step with images on how to design what you always wanted.
Need itinerary of a week? Attractions in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Floating Market, Kanchanaburi...
Big Bend US National Park (Texas)
From canyons, rivers, basins to mountains, a journey into wilderness!
Spring in Tokyo
Hanami and Sakura at Ueno, Akibahara, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ameyoko Shopping Street...
The Best of Taipei
Our stories at Yangmingshan, Yehliu, Keelung, Jinshan, Danshui, Taipei...
Live, Do, Eat, Sleep in Texas
4 Seasons experience in The Lone Star state; hopping Austin, Blanco, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fredericksberg, Houston, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Terlingua, Vanderpool, Waco & more