Often regarded as one of the Thai capital’s best kept secrets in terms of heritage sights, the breathtaking Wat Ratchabophit Temple is a religious institution most visitors miss unless they take part in a Chao Phraya cruise by local cruise operators such as Anantara Cruises. Located opposite the Lord Canal, the temple occupies pride of place a city block from Bangkok’s iconic Grand Palace.
Having been commissioned to be built during the 19th century by none other than King Rama V himself the unique architectural features and general aesthetics sets it apart from other famous temples located along the riverside. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Wat Ratchabophit Temple is its larger than life prayer hall or Wiharn as it’s known in the local tongue while the ordination hall or Ubosot is no less impressive with its connection to the temple’s round courtyard. Contained within the heart of the courtyard is of course the mesmerising gilded pagoda or Chedi which houses a Buddha sculpture in the seated pose known as Lopburi.
The exterior of the temple complex is equally awe inspiring with its hand painted tiles glimmering in the sun. Resembling the glazed exterior of the enamel Benjarong tiles of Thailand the exterior tiles are not the only notable feature of the Wat Ratchabophit temple’s facade as the main door and windows are duly decorated with mirror work and gold.
Visitors should not forget to explore the buildings contained within the southern quarter of the temple compound. This area is designated for the use of Buddhist monks and the Kuti community which is responsible for the daily upkeep of the temple grounds. The area includes a Chinese style structure that was once employed by monarchs during their stays at the temple.
The forecourt area of the temple contains a Chedi with a distinctly Gothic architectural style while the western quarter of the complex which faces the Lord Canal is home to a series of monuments and burial sites of several members of the royal family. The sculpture of the Golden Pig is located in the northern fringes of the temple and can be reached via a footbridge. Believed to have been built in the honour of King Rama’s wife who was born in the Chinese calendar’s year of the pig, the statue is a unique element of the temple’s history and heritage.
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+