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Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, is arguably the grandest wat in Bangkok and the standard by which others are judged. The namesake Buddha image is Thailand’s most sacred, carved from solid jade and featuring in enough legends to fill several books. Yet it’s the temple’s ornate details that leave most visitors spellbound.

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Completed three years after King Rama I founded the still-existent Chakri dynasty and moved the Thai capital to Bangkok in 1782, Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, to use the temple’s official name, and the Phra Kaew (“Emerald Buddha”) image that it enshrines, continue to symbolise the unifying interplay between Buddhism and the monarchy in Thailand.

Lavish doesn’t quite cut it. Photo taken in or around Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

Lavish doesn’t quite cut it. Photo: David Luekens

Phra Kaew can also be seen as the ultimate level of Thai superstition—the grandmaster of the many Buddha images and other objects, like talismans and amulets, believed to be imbued with a range of mysterious powers. It would not be an understatement to say that the unity of the Thai kingdom depends on Phra Kaew, a belief that was cemented by its arrival in Bangkok around the same time as the current royal ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,000 words.)


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