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Wat Phra Kaew

Outside view

The Wat Phra Kaew (English: Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is the most important buddhist temple of Thailand. It is located in the historic center of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace.

The construction of the temple started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples it does not contain living quarters for monks, only the highly decorated holy buildings, statues and pagodas.

The main building is the central bot, which houses the Emerald Buddha. Even though it is small in size it is the most important icon for Thai people. The figurine is believed to originate in India, but it first surfaced in Thailand when in 1434 after lightning struck a temple in Chiang Rai and it showed up under stucco cover. It finally came to Bangkok when King Taksin fought with Laos and his general Chakri (the later King Rama I) brought it first to Thonburi, and in 1784 it was moved to its final location.

Golden chedi

The wall surrounding the temple area - from the outside only a plain white wall - is painted with scenes from the Thai version of the Ramayana mythology, the Ramakian. Several statues in the temple area resemble figures from this story, most notably the giants (yak), five-meter high statues. Also originating from the Ramayana are the monkey kings and giants which sorround the golden chedis.

Also shown is a model of Angkor Wat, added by King Nangklao (Rama III), as the Khmer empire of Cambodia and the Thais share cultural and religious roots.