There are about 35 remarkable establishments you can visit around the Royal Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok Thailand. We failed to take a picture per establishment of all the 35 sites because we did not realize that the map given to us in the entrance would be helpful. If you are going to the Grand Palace Complex, make sure you use the map given to you which has all the images of those 35 establishments and its descriptions. Admission fee is free of charge for Thais and 500 baht for foreigners. Opening Hours: Daily from 8:30 AM – 3.30 PM (except if it is a holiday)
The Rattanakosin Kingdom (1782-present) was established after the fall of Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1438), Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350-1767), and Thonburi Kingdom (1768-1782). When the first and last King of Thonburi Kingdom, Taksin the Great, becomes so irrational in his rule, his general-later-the-founder-of-Rattanakosin-Kingdom led a rebellion. Previously, the royal palace and centre of administration had been located in Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After King Rama I ascended to the throne in 1782, he moved the capital to the other side of the river. By his royal command, The Grand Palace was built to serve not only his residence but also as the site of administrative offices.
The two earliest buildings erected within the complex were the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and the Phra Maha Monthian. Now, it consists of around 35 establishments: Hor Phra Rajphongsanusorn, Hor Phra Rajkoramanusorn, Phra Siratana Chedi, Hor Phra Nak, Phra Warn Yod, Model of Angkor Wat, Phra Mondop, Hor Phra Monthian Dharma, Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn (The Royal Pantheon), Chapel of the Emerald Buddha, Hor Phra Gandhararat, Belfry Tower, Borom Phiman Mansion, Sidhala Phirom Hall, Buddha Ratana Starn Hall, Amarindra Winitchai Hall, Paisal Taksin Hall, Chakrapat Phiman Hall, Mahisorn Prasat Hall, Hor Phra Sulalai Phiman, Rajruedi Hall, Hor Sastrakom, Dusita Phrom Hall, Snamchand Pavillion, Hor Phra Dhart Monthian, Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, Moonstarn Baromasna Hall, Somut Devaraj Urbat Hall, Rajkaranyasapha Hall, Aphorn Phimok Prasat Pavillion, Dusit Maha Prasat Hall, Wat Phra Kaeo Museum, Athawijarn Sala, and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.
Here are our 10 sites (at least) to visit in the Royal Grand Palace Complex, Bangkok, Thailand!
1.) Phra Siratana Chedi
This golden stupa is called Phra Siratana Chedi in Thai. It was erected by King Rama IV in 1855. Relics of the Lord Buddha are enshrined inside this stupa. This stupa has a circular base and a bell shape which is in the Ceylonese style.
2.) Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn (The Royal Pantheon)
The Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn in Thai, a pavilion having a prang summit, it is a mixture of Thai-Khmer style. It was constructed by King Rama IV in 1856. At first the King wanted to transfer the Emerald Buddha from the main chapel to enshrine inside this building.
3.) Phra Mondop
This building is the Buddhist library, called Phra Mondop in Thai. It was built during the reign of King Rama I in 1789 for containing a large beautiful mother-of-pearl inlay book cabinet to house the Buddhist scripture. There are figures of demons and human faces nagas, guarding all four doors. The door panels are also inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Placed at each of the four corners of the exterior walls are four stone Buddha images in Javanese style from 14th or 15th century, made of volcanic stone were presented to King Rama V by the governor of Java during the state visit to Java which now is Indonesia.
4.) Phra Ubosoth or The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha
Phra Ubosoth or The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha is the most important building in the temple was built by King Rama I in 1782. It’s the ordination hall in real Thai style architecture, the style of Ayudhaya period, used as an ordination place for Buddhist monks because it is surrounded by double sacred boundary stones, which mean royal chapel place in small pavilions. The outside walls of the building are decorated with gift and colour glass mosaics. The pedestals of the chapels is adorned with motif of 112 Garudas (king of birds) holding Nagas or serpents, used as bearers of the chapel. The beautiful mother-of-pearl inlaid dorr panels and windows were made during the reign of King Rama I. The mural painting on the wall behind the Emerald Buddha represented the scene of Buddhist cosmology: heaven, earth and hell, whereas the front shown the scene of the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha. These two paintings are painted in the first reign of Bangkok, and have never been repainted. But the two side walls, displaying episodes from the life of the Lord Buddha and previous lives of the Lord Buddha, have been repaired during the reign of King Rama III.
The Emerald Buddha is the Buddha image which was carved from a block of jasper. The image itself measures 66c centimetres high and 48.3 centimetres wide (if it is from the base), in the attitude of meditation. Judging from the image’s style, the Emerald Buddha is of northern Thai workmanship and was probably made in the 15th century, and regarded as the most important Buddha image in Thailand. There are three different costumes of the Emerald Buddha, one of each season, they are summer, rainy season and winter. The first two seasons costumes were made in the reign of King Rama I and the last one for winter was made in the reign of King Rama III, all made of gold and jewelry. The ceremony of changing the costume of the Emerald Buddha takes place three times a year, at the beginning of new season by the King.
The story of this image is that the Emerald Buddha was first discovered in 1464 in Chiang Rai, a province in the north of Thailand. In the reign of King Tilokaraj (1441-1487) it was brought to Chiang Mai in 1481. In 1552, King of Chiang Mai whose name King Chaichettha who was also King of Laos, took the image to Luang Phrabang in Laos. It was also brought to Viantiane City in 1564, when that city became the capital city of Laos. It remained there until 1778, after that Chao Phraya Mahakrasatseuk, the future King Rama I carried it off to Thonburi, the old capital of Thailand before Bangkok. And on March 5, 1784, the Emerald Buddha was brought over from Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn at Thonburi to this temple. On both side of the Emerald Buddha are the two standing crowned Buddha images about 3 metres high in the attitudes of calming the ocean. They were cast in bronze, covered with gold and precious gems, by the command of King Rama III in 1841. King Rama III named the one on the north Phra Puttha Yodfa Chulalok and the one on the south Phra Puttha Lerdla Sulalai and dedicated them to King Rama I and King Rama II respectively. And small seated Buddha image in the attitude of meditation is called Phra Samphut Panni. It was created by King Rama IV in 1830 when he was still in the monkhood. The monk prince invented a new type of Buddha image, without cranial proturberance, wearing a pleated monastic robe.
5.) The Gallery and Ramakien story
The gallery which is surrounding every buildings in the temple, there are mural paintings which depict the story of Ramakien, the Thai version of the Indian Ramayana epic. This story is the battle between Tosakanth who is the king of demons and King Rama (human being). The story tell about Tosakanth kidnaps the Queen of King Rama whose name is Sida, and takes her to Longka city, where he hopes that she will fall in love with him but she doesn’t. In the battle that follow, Tosakanth asks his innumerable relatives and friends to join him, whereas King Rama has a monkey army and the great monkey warriors under his command. Finally, Tosakanth is defeated and King Rama takes Sida back to Ayudhaya, his capital city. The painting consist of 178 sections. The first picture is located just opposite of the spired hall. And they proceed in clockwise directions.
The painting were first done in the reign of King Rama I and have been renovated many times.
6.) Borom Phiman Mansion
In below picture, the gate you are seeing is the Borom Phiman Mansion. It is not really open for tourists. The Borom Phiman Mansion or Phra Thinang Borom Phiman in Thai, is located in the middle palace. It was built in the European style by King Rama V in 1903 for his son, the future King Rama VI. It was used as a royal residence by King Rama VII and VIII. At present, it serves as the royal guest house for heads of state and guest of Their Majesties.
Note: Near this mansion is a water stall. The price though is 20baht per bottle (already double the regular price in the supermarket). If you do not want to be double priced, make sure you bring lots of water as walking around the Grand Palace complex can be so hot and tiring even with your fan and umbrella.
7.) Chakri Maha Prasat Hall
This building was a royal residence built by King Rama V in 1877. The original design by the British architect, Mr. John Clunish, called for three domes over the building. But by the suggestion of the former regent, Somdej Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriwayong, King Rama V had them changed to Prasat spires. So, this is the only one building in the Grand Palace that mixed the lower part of the throne hall in European style with Thai style roof. King Rama V used this building as his residence. Later it was used by the King to receive the credentials from ambassadors but now this ceremony takes place at Chitralada Palace. And now, this building is used for state banquets. It is three-storeyed building, built on the plan of the letter “T”. The front of the building consists of three parts. They are the East Wing, the Central and the West Wing.
These parts are connected by long corridors. The first floor is used as an ancient weapon museum. The room on the second floor of the East Wing is used as reception room, and the room on the third floor is used as repository for objects of worship of the Kings.
The room below the central Prasat roof is used as a shrine for the ashes of King Rama IV to VIII and principal Queens of King Rama IV, V, and VII. The room on the second floor of the Central is the front hall.
The room on the second floor of the West Wing is used as reception room. On the third floor of the West Wing, that room is used to keep the ashes of the lesser Queens and members of the royal family.
On the second floor of the east corridor, there are pictures of Kings and on the west corridor, there are pictures of the Queens.
8.) Aphorn Phimok Prasat Pavilion
It was built entirely of wood by King Rama IV. In the old days, the King was carried on a palanquin to the shoulder-high step of the pavilion where he got down from his state chair and proceed to the hall of Dusit Maha Prasat. This pavilion was reproduced by King Rama V at Bang Pa-In Palace in Ayudhaya Province and replica of this pavilion was the World Fair in Brussel in 1958.
9.) Wat Phra Kaeo Museum
The museum has a lot of buddha images and Thailand’s artefacts and royal collections. The museum is also known as the Temple of Emeral Buddha Museum.
From Sukhothai Kingdom, Ayutthaya Kingdom and Thonburi Kingdom, Thailand is now under the Rattanakosin Kingdom (also known as the Chakri Dynasty). This dynasty started when King Rama I, led and won a rebellion against King Taksin of the Thonburi Kingdom. We are now with the 10th King of their lineage, King Rama X also known as King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
10.) Queen Sirikit Musuem of Textiles
The museum is located to the right of the visitors’ entrance to the Grand Palace in the Ratsadakorn-bhibhathana building, once the Crown’s Ministry of Finance. A complete renovation begun in 2003 created a state-of-the-art museum, which opened to the public in Spring 2012. Modern facilities include a new lobby, galleries, storage, an education studio, library, lecture hall, and Thailand’s first dedicated textile conservation laboratoy. Nonetheless, its past is still very much present, in the preservation of its original facade and many internal architectural details.
The establishment of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles embodies Her Majesty’s efforts to ensure the preservation of Thailand’s textile arts for future generations. The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from East, South, and Southeast Asia with a special emphasis on Thailand’s royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Additionally, the Museum’s goal is to create public awareness of Thai identity and culture, and an appreciation of the beauty of Thai traditional textiles through research, exhibition and interpretation. Exhibitions change periodically.
Admission to the museum is included with the ticket to the Grand Palace. Hours of operation is 9:00-16:30. Last admission is 15:30.
At that time, the current exibit are the Batiks from Indonesia. Reason-behind was the Batik culture has influenced much the Thai textile industry especially with the nice friendship between the King of Thailand and the King of Java had during the 1500. We had a try of wearing Indonesia’s batik national costumes for free!
Other interesting sites in the grand palace complex which we failed to take some pictures:
The Demon Guardians- There are six pairs of them, standing at the gate of the gallery. Most of them are facing to the chapel of the Emerald Buddha. It’s meaning that they are guarding The Emerald Buddha from all evil spirits. These demon statues were built in the reign of King Rama III. Each one is an important character in Rammakian story, the most important literature in the reign of King Rama I.
The Statue of Cheewok Komaraphat- This statue named Cheewok Komaraphat, a patron of Thai medicine, was built in the reign of King Rama III. He was a doctor of the Lord Buddha and now he is regarded as the father of Thai herbal medicine. In front of him is placed a mortar and a grinding stone, which in the old days were used by the believers to grind the medicine which was more efficacious than anywhere. A twin building in Thai style behind the chapel of the Emerald Buddha are the chapel for many Buddha images were built by King Rama IV, on the north is named Hor Phra Rajkorama nusorn, housing 34 small Buddha images, dedicated to 33 Kings of Ayudhaya and one King of Thonburi. The building on the south is named Hor Phra Rajphongsanusorn, housing 8 small Buddha images, dedicated to the Kings of Bangkok period. Between a twin chapel is a pavilion having a Thai crowned shape, decorated with colour porcelain mosaics, housing an old Prang called Phra Pothitat Piman. The leaves of a Bodhi tree from Bodha Gaya in India under which the Lord Buddha attained the enlightenment are enshrined in this prang.
Model of Angkor Wat- A model of Angkor Wat, the Khmer temple in Cambodia. It is an impressive example of Khmer architecture of the 12th century. King Mongkut or King Rama IV had it built for his subjects to see what the Khmer ruins looked like. The original Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built by King Suriya Varman II. The real one is very large, about 1000 kilometres length and 800 metres width.
Phra Asadha Maha Chedi- The eight prangs or towers are standing on the east of the temple were constructed during the reign of King Rama I. A prang has the same function as a chedi which is a monument to one worthy of veneration. They are different colours each one is dedicated to a certain Buddhist concept.
Hor Phra Naga– The original one built by King Rama I to enshrine Phra Naga Image, a standing Buddha image in copper alloy and taken from Ayudhaya by King Rama I. But in the reign of King Rama III, the need arose for a rathe rlarge building to keep the ashes of the deceased members of the present dynasty. King Rama III had the original Hor Phra Naga pulled down, and built instead by this building to preserve the ashes of the deceased princes and prncesses. The Phra Naga image was transferred to Phra Wiharn Yod. But the King still kept the old name of Hor Phra Naga until now.
Phra Wiharn Yod- It was built by King Rama III and used as the chapel of many Buddha images, one of them is Phra Naga image which was transferred from Hor Phra Naga. The superstructure is in the form of Thai crown decorated with colour porcelain mosaics from China.
Hor Phra Monthian Dharma- It’s the auxiliary library, was built by the prince of front palace, the younger brother of King Rama I. Inside this building, there are many mother-of-pearl inlay book cabinets for housing various Buddhist scriptures. The central door panels of this building are inlaid with mother-of-pearl too and has an inscription saying that they originally belonged to Wat Borom Phuttharam in Ayudhaya and were made by King Boromkot, King of Ayudhaya in early 18th century.
Hor Phra Gandharat- it was erected by King Rama IV and used as the chapel of Phra Gandharat, the Buddha image is believed to contain a magical power for involking rain and is worship for agricultural purpose.
Belfry- The belfry tower is constructed by King Rama IV, decorated with colour porcelain mosaics. The bell is now rung only certain occasion such as when the new supreme patriarch is nominated.
Phra Thinang Phudtan Thom- The Central Audience Hall is the body of the letter “T”, contains of a throne named Phra Thinang Phudtan Thom, raised on a marble dais and placed at the end of the south wall. It is a wooden throne plated with silver and gold neilo, made at the command of King Rama V. Above the throne is the Nine-tiered Great White Umbrella of State. Today this hall is used for state banquets.
Dusit Maha Prasat Hall- Dusit Maha Prasat Hall or Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat in Thai, is the grand spired hall. It was built by King Rama I as a replacement for an earlier wooden Phra Thinang Amarintharaphisek Maha Prasat which burnt down in 1789. King Rama I intended that the present building be used for his own lying-in-state as it has the same height and dimensions as the Phra Thinang Suriyamarin in Ayudhaya, the cutomary hall for lying-in-state of Ayudhaya Kings. Thus the principal function of this hall is a hall for lying-in-state of Kings, Queens, and members of the royal family. The hall is also used for the annual Consecration Day Ceremony.
Snamchand Pavilion– or Phra Thinang Snamchand is a small pavilion which contains of a rectangular seat made from a single plank of teakwood measuring 2.0 by 1.5 metres. King Rama II used this building for relaxing.
Hor Phra Dhart Monthian– This building has the same size and decorations as Hor Phra Suralai Phiman. It is used as a chapel for enshrining the cinerary urns of the first three Kings of the Chakri dynasty and the two Queens as well as those of the father of King Rama I and the mother of King Rama III.
Sihabanchon- It is the window’s panels between Paisal Taksin Hall and Hor Phra Dhart Monthian, used for the King to give a short audience at night time or in an emergency.
The Chinese Statues- The Chinese Statues came from China in the early reign of Chakri dynasty. In those days, Thailand had commercial connection with China. When the Thai people sailed there, the trade was rice and teakwood. When they come back with silks and procelains, they used the statues as ballast.
Hor Phra Suralai Phiman- Formerly called Hor Phra Chao or Chapel of the Buddha. It was built in the reign of King Rama I for enshrining the Buddha images which consecrated by Kings of the Chakri dynasty.
Rajruedi Hall- or Phra Thinang Rajruedi in Thai, is an open pavilion which was constructed by King Rama VI. It is used by the King for ablution ceremony on his birthday.
Hor Sastrakom- It was built by King Rama IV as a replacement for the one built by King Rama I which he himself had demolished. It is used as a chapel by a chapter of monks of Ramana Sect every Buddhist Holy day for ceremony of making holy water used in the daily ablution of the King and sprinkling over the compound of the Phra Maha Montian.
Dusita Phirom Hall- Originally it was built as an open pillared hall of wood by King Rama I and it was enclosed by a curtain wall of masonry by King Rama III. It was used as a changing room for the King to change his regalia before going out to a platform to mount on a palanquin or the elephant in the north and the west.
Phra Thaen Maha Sawetachat- which was constructed by King Rama I. It is carved of teakwood and gilded throne with glass in-lays which is sheltered by the Nine-tiered Great White Umbrella of State. This throne is used by the King on such state occasions as ceremonies of consecration and the King’s annual birthday audience. At such time, a second carved and gilded throne named Phra Thinang Phudtarn Kanchana Singhart, on which the King actually sits, is placed on top of it. For religious ceremonies, the image of the Buddha or Cinerary urns containing the ashes of the former Chakri Kings are enshrined on Phra Thaen Maha Sawetachat. The Nine-tiered Great White Umbrella of State is the symbol of the King. The lowest one refers to the King and the eight ones above refer to the people of the eight directions whom the King always visits and takes care of. Beside the throne decorated within the replica of golden and silver trees.
Phra Thinang Busabok Mala Maha Chakrapat Phiman- was built in the shape of a boat by King Rama I. It was reserved for King and objects of veneration. In the reign of King Rama II and IV, the two British ambassadors presented their credentials to the King in front of this throne. Today, the throne is used to enshrine the Buddha image during religious ceremony.
Phra Thinang Paisal Taksin or Paisal Taksin Hall. The hall was originally used a a private audience hall in the inner palace by King Rama I who also died there in 1809. When King Rama II succeeded his father, he used this hall for holding his Borom Rachaphisek Ceremony which is the ceremony for the consecration of a King. Since that time the hall has been used for consecration ceremony.
Phra Thinang Chakrapat Phiman or Chakrapat Phiman Hall- contains the state bed chamber. It was used as a royal residence proper by King Rama I to III, and it has become the customary at the coronation ceremony that the King has to stay in this hall at least for one night after the ceremony. Paisal Taksin and Chakrapat Phiman Hall are not open to the public.
Phra Maha Montian Group is the grand residence which consists of 7 connecting buildings: Phra Thinang Amarindra Winitchai Mahai Suraya Phiman, Phra Thinang Paisal Taksin, Phra Thinang Chakrapat Phiman, Hor Phra Suralai Phiman, Hor Phra Dhart Monthian, Phra Thinang Thepsatan Phiras, and Phra Thinang Theppa-as Philai.
Phra Thinang Amarindra Winitchai Mahai Suraya Phiman or Amarindra Winitchai Hall is the first part of the Maha Montian Group. The hall was built by King rama I in 1782. It was the formal audience hall where the King met officers of state and foreign ambassadors. The two British ambassadors, John Crawford during the reign of King Rama II and Sir John Bowring during the reign of King Rama IV were both received to present their credentials here. Today, the hall is used for many state occasions such as coronation ceremony, the King’s birthday ceremony, and other special occasions. The hall contains two thrones: they are Phra Thaen Maha Sawetachat and the Phra Thinang Busabok Mala Maha Chakrapat Phiman.
Rajkaranyasapha Hall- It was built by King Rama V and was used as a meeting hall for privy council but at present, another building is used. At the time of King Rama V’s first visit to Europe, Queen Saovabha came here to preside over the meetings. And when King Rama IX entered monkhood, Queen Sirikit also came here to preside over privy council meetings.
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