The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is on the grounds of the Grand Palace and it is high on everyone’s list to see.
The Wat Phra Kaew, also known as “the temple of the Emerald Buddha” located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok is Thailand’s most sacred temple and an important pilgrimage site for Thai Buddhists.
The temple enshrines Thailand’s most highly revered Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha. The image is housed in the ubosot (ordination hall), a very ornate building constructed during the second half of the 18th century after King Rama I had established Bangkok as the new capital of Siam. The walls of the Rattanakosin style building are adorned with murals.
The Emerald Buddha statue or “Phra Kaew Morakot” wearing the attire of gold and precious jewels is seated on a very ornate raised alter in the ubosot. The 66-centimeter tall image in meditation mudra is carved from a single piece of dark green jade.
Three times per year, at the start of the summer, rainy and cool-season the King changes the attire of the Emerald Buddha during an impressive ceremony.
It is not known with certainty when the Emerald Buddha was carved and from where it originates. Several legends tell different stories about the image’s history.
One legend says that the image was created around 50 BC in India, some 500 years after the Buddha passed away. According to the legend, several centuries later a Burmese King who wanted to spread Buddhism in his country requested an Indian King to be given copies of the Tripitaka (the Buddhist teachings) and the Emerald Buddha image.
The King granted his request and send a ship carrying the image. A violent storm caused the ship to lose its way and the image ended up in Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire.
Return to Siam
Centuries later when the Thais invaded Angkor in 1431, they captured the image and brought it back to Siam. After having been enshrined in several temples across Siam, the image ended up in Chiang Rai.
Dress Code & Temple Customs
As this is Thailand’s most highly revered temple there is a strict dress code. Please dress respectfully which means long pants or skirts and long-sleeved shirts. Visitors who show up in short pants can borrow suitable clothes at the entrance of the Grand Palace. As in any temple, remove your shoes before entering the hall.
Please do not disturb people worshipping the Emerald Buddha with a loud noise. Sit down with the feet pointing backward away from the Emerald Buddha image. Taking photographs inside the is not allowed.