Bangkok – Grand Palace

The Grand Palace in Bangkok was established in 1782 during the reign of Rama I, the founder of the Chakri Dynasty. The Wat Phra Kaew grew into a complex of magnificent buildings covering 2.3 million feet and was the royal residence of Thailand’s monarchs until 1925. Come explore the golden grander including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

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1 Two Yakshas Guarding Gate at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

As you enter the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Court of the Grand Palace, you come face-to-face with these two mythical giants called Yakshas. Their origin dates back to the 14th century. They are commonly seen guarding the gate of Buddhist temples in Thailand.

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2 Phra Siratana Chedi at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This golden, bell-shaped stupa on the upper terrace of Wat Phra Kaew is the tallest structure in the Grand Palace complex and can easily be seen from the Chao Phraya River. This reliquary called Phra Siratana Chedi was built during the 19th century in a Sri Lankan style. It is said to contain a relic, perhaps a bone or hair, from Gautama Buddha who died around 400 B.C.

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3 Octagonal Throne at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This Octagonal Throne at Wat Phra Kaew is typical of those used for the coronation of the Kings of Thailand and when they received royal audiences. It is boat shaped with a pavilion that represents Mount Meru, the center of Buddhism. This one bears the insignia of the current and longest reigning monarch, Rama IX. It is surrounded by golden parasols.

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4 Phra Mondrop Library at Wat Phra Kaew in Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This exquisite Phra Mondrop is decorated with 16 columns plus green and blue mirrored tiles with tiny golden carvings of Buddha. It is the Hor Trai or library for the Buddhist Cannons at the Grand Palace. The gilded Mondop is located on the Upper Terrance of Wat Phra Kaew.

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5 Phra Mondrop Library Guard at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

A pair of golden Yakshas steadfastly guards the entrance to Phra Mondrop at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This royal library at the Grand Palace is never opened to the public because inside are the holy scriptures called the Tripitaka or Triple Basket. They are considered to be too sacred. Phra Mondop means the library of palm-leaf scriptures.

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6 The Royal Pantheon at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

In 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, better known as Rama I, founded the Chakri Dynasty in Bangkok. His direct descendant Rama IX has been the King of Thailand since 1946. A life-size statue of the prior eight monarchs is inside the Royal Pantheon. Also called the Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn, this building with a corn-cob shaped tower (called a prang) is on the east end of Upper Terrace at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is only open to the public on Chakri Day which is celebrated on April 6.

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7 Gilded Chedi on Upper Terrace at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This gilded chedi is one of two on the Upper Terrace of Wat Phra Kaew in front of the Royal Pantheon’s staircase. They are devoted to the parents of King Rama I. The mythical demon creatures called Yakshas are among several that appear to be holding up the base.

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8 Close Up of Two Yakshas at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Yakshas are spiritual beings from Hindu literature. They live in subterranean earth and are protectors of treasures. Some people in India consider them to be deities. They evolved in Thailand to be guardians of gates, temples and royal belongings. They look fierce like a demon. However, in addition to being good warriors, Yakshas are considered to be benevolent. This pair is at the base of a golden chedi at the Grand Palace.

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9 Royal Monastery of Emerald Buddha at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

The Emerald Buddha is a highly revered, 26 inch tall, green jade statue that was mistakenly thought to be an emerald when it was discovered in 1434. It was captured from Laos by King Rama I in 1778 and placed on an altar of this ordination hall or chapel which was built in 1783. It is called the Royal Monastery of Emerald Buddha. Only the king can approach the statue three times a year during the seasonal changing of the image’s costume.

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10 Row of Golden Garudas at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

There are 112 of these Garudas holding a slain Nāga serpent by the tail along the base of the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace. According to Buddhism mythology, these predatory birds that resemble man-eagles have golden wings that span for miles and darken the sky when they fly.

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11 Belfry Tower at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

When King Rama I began building the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Court during the late 18th century, he added a tall belfry to house a bell that he had seized from another temple. That original structure no longer remains. However, this green and blue mosaic bell tower called Ho Rakhang took its place during the reign of King Rama IV.

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12 Half-man Half-bird Gold Statue at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This golden figure of a half-man, half-bird is called a Kinnara. It originally comes from Hindu mythology but has been adapted in Thailand. The creature, which can fly between the mystical and human worlds, marries a Kinnaris. Their love is everlasting and their life is one of perpetual pleasure. This statue is at Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace.

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13 Four Towers Called Prangs or Chedi at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

These four towers are half of the eight chedis called Phra Atsada Maha Chedis at the eastern side of the Grand Palace. The prangs are ornately decorated with glazed tiles. Their three tiers represent hell, humanity and Nirvana. Each of these prangs also connote a different Buddhist concept.

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14 Chinese Warrior Statue at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This Chinese warrior statue stands guard in the garden below the Upper Terrace of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Court at the Grand Palace. It is one of several 19th century stone sculptures you will see at Wat Phra Kaew. Some were used as ship ballasts while others were gifts to royalty during trade with China and the Kingdom of Siam, the former name for Thailand.

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15 Glory of Rama Mural at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This is one of the 178 mural paintings within the galleries surrounding a portion of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Court. They tell the story of Ramakien, also called the Glory of Rama, which is the national epic of Thailand. It was adapted for the Thai culture from a similar Hindu epic that was written over 2,000 years ago.

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16 Hor Phra Naga at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Hor Phra Naga is the mausoleum at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. Inside are the cremated ashes of several members of the royal family who have lived at Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang while it was the royal residence from 1782 until 1925.

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17 Yaksha Giant Close Up at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This 16 foot Yaksha stands guard at Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This highly ornate, porcelain gatekeeper is typically characterized with bulging eyes, fangs, a greenish complexion and holding a sword.

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18 Phra Thinang Chakri at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

The Phra Thinang Chakri at the Grand Palace was commissioned by King Rama V as a throne hall. It was built by two English architects who designed the lower half with a Renaissance style yet the gilded spire and roof follows a traditional Thai architecture. It opened in 1882 as part of the hundredth anniversary of the Chakri Dynasty.

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19 Dusit Maha Prasat at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

The Dusit Maha Prasat was built at the Grand Palace in 1790 by Budda Yodfa Chulaloke five years after he became the first monarch of the House of Chakri of Siam. The intricate layers of the gilded spire represent the seven layers of heaven, a stupa and on top is a chedi in the shape of a lotus bud. The Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat is used for the lying-in-state of the royal family which lasts for 100 days.

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20 Dusit Maha Prasat Throne at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This Busabok Mala Throne was used by King Rama I when he received public audiences. It’s located on the front porch of the Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat or more commonly called the Throne Hall at the Grand Palace.

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21 Museum of Emerald Buddha Temple at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

In 1982, this building became a museum that houses artifacts from the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Formerly it was a mint, a guard barracks and an officer’s club. On the pediment is a Garuda that is Thailand’s emblem. This red, mythical beast called Phra Khrut Pha represents the king’s divine power and authority.

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22 Pink Elephant Statue Outside of Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This statue of three, three-headed, pink elephants is in the center of a roundabout on Sanam Luang Junction near the Grand Palace. It was erected on December 5, 2011, as part Rama IX’s 84th birthday celebration. That day is a public holiday each year for Bhumibol Adulyadej who has been the King of Thailand since 1946 … the country’s longest reigning monarch.

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