Thai Enchantment: The Grand Palace of Bangkok
Possibly the most famous building in Bangkok’s bouquet of architecture, the Grand Palace is truly Bangkok’s prize gem. Covered in patterned glass and gold paint, the palace complex gleams in the light. This is where the King and the royal family used to reside. Now, however, it has been converted into a gigantic museum for tourists and locals to discover the roots of Thai history.
This museum exhibits some of the palaces original pieces of art. On display are many small carvings, mainly of Buddha in various positions, wall murals showing the history of famous Thai battles, painted screens depicting the life of the Buddha, and much more. In one room, three models of the Grand Palace delight the eye with their minuscule details. In another, lie the bones of a greatly revered white elephant, long dead.
But by far the greatest attraction of the Grand Palace, if not the Palace itself, is the Emerald Buddha. This statue sits in a great temple, which in and of itself is a wonder to behold. The exterior of the temple is covered in intricate mosaics of blue, silver, and red pieces of glass, in a display of beauty dazzling to the eye. Gold paint covers the graceful curves of sculpted plaster. There is no space left simple or devoid of decoration. The entire building conveys a sense of grandeur and extravagance.
Inside is no different, except the form of decoration here is exclusively paint. The walls have been completely covered in painted scenes depicting the life and death of Siddartha Gautama, later recognized as the Buddha. An immense throne towers almost to the ceiling, flanked by two golden statues. Resting atop this elaborate masterpiece, sits the Emerald Buddha, one of the more famous Buddha statues.
This statue, actually made out of jade, is greatly revered by the people of Bangkok. Each day you can find hundreds of visitors paying homage to it, after removing their shoes and sprinkling themselves with water from a lotus flower. If you intend to visit, be warned! It is found extremely disrespectful to sit with your feet pointing towards the Emerald Buddha, and you may find yourself escorted out if you aren’t careful!
Near the temple of the Emerald Buddha, there is a large dome which is entirely covered in gold tiles. It draws the eye, as it is the only structure in the Grand Palace that does not vary in color. It is said that this building was constructed for the sole purpose of housing and protecting the hair of Siddartha Gautama. Sadly, it is not open to the public. It remains an object of speculation as to whether or not the hair of the Buddha can actually be found within this gold temple.
The beauty of this palace is unbelievable. Its history is unique. Not only was it the home of the royal family, it is a beacon of religion. Mystery surrounds its tiled walls, and the ghosts of the past beckon adventurers to seek them out. Full of unique charm, the Grand Palace will never cease to enchant travelers.
Hannah Miller is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos courtesy and copyright Hannah Miller