City of Angels, Temples and Shrines

   

It is known by the Thai people as Krung Thep, which roughly translates to “the city of angels”.  Originally named by King Rama IV, who wished the good name would bring good luck and joy to his people.

Incidentally, the king ruled Siam from 1851-68, successfully negotiated with Western powers, modernized his nation and served as the inspiration for the story of Anna and the King of Siam on which the musical the King & I is based.

While I could not see any angels, what had impressed me the most about this city is the sheer number of Buddhist temples or wats, scattered around Bangkok — more than 800 — visiting all of them would take an entire lifetime.

   

The temples are more than just tourist attractions and play an important role in Buddhist tradition.  Their cultural significance and beauty are awe-inspiring.  Monks live in the temple complexes, wake at 4:00 AM, attend to prayers and duties and walk the streets collecting food and necessities from ordinary people.
   

Of the temples we visited, two stood out.  The first, the 18th century Wat Phra Kaew, is Thailand’s most revered shrine, which houses the Emerald Buddha, so small and distant that it can hardly be seen. It is shown in the right photo below the gold buddha.   Little is known about this famous statue, made of green jade or jasper, except that it symbolizes the independence, strength and good fortune of the country.

Next door is Wat Pratham Khongkha, a red roofed former temple which now serves as a residence for Buddhist monks.

The second, and most prominent temple in Thailand is Wat Pho, a sprawling complex of temples, shrines and meditative grounds with a giant reclining Buddha, art and statues in the Phra Nakon district. One of Bangkok’s oldest temples, it has the distinction of being first on the list of six temples classified as the highest grade of the first class royal temples.

   

The Wat Pho temple houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand including the long reclining Buddha, built by Rama III in 1832.   The posture of the image is referred to as sihasaiyas, that of a sleeping or reclining lion.

The figure is 49 feet high and 150 feet in length, one of the largest Buddhas in Thailand.

The temple complex consists of two walled compounds. The northern walled compound is where the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and massage school are found.  The southern walled compound, Tukgawee, is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school.

    

    


Gerard Pampalone

I am not a professional garden designer, landscape architect or horticulturalist. I am, for the most part, self-taught.Gerard Pampalone

I don’t garden for a living, I live for gardening

I came to gardening late in life, so I am making up for lost time.
I hope to share my insights, resources, and gardening experiences. My aim is to educate, enlighten and inspire gardeners to take chances, break new ground, dig deeper and stretch themselves.

As seen in:

Westport Magazine, July 2007
athome Magazine, March/April 2008

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