Thailand is home to 321,200 Buddhist temples and these are called ‘Wat’ in Thai. Temple,Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn is named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn. Wat Arun is one of the iconic landmarks of Thailand on the west bank of Chao Phraya River. The temple is the architectural representation of Mount Meru of the Hindu cosmology. This is the most astounding temple of Thailand, not only because of its riverside location but because the temple is partly made up for colorfully embellished spires and stands. The four cornered prang of the temple houses the images of the guardian gods of four directions, which further enhance the mystical religious virtue of the temple. Next to the Prang is the Ordination Hall, which house the Niramitr Buddha image. You can easily reach temple through Chao Phraya River, as regular ferries travel across the river. In the Ordination Hall, you can admire the detailed murals beautifying the walls. Along with being a famous tourist destination, Wat Arun is also an important place o f Buddhist Worship. The temple used to be the home of the Emerald Buddha earlier, but later on the Capital and Palace was moved to the other side of the river. The porcelain decorations of the spires make them glitter in the sunshine. The Buddha image in the temple is said to be designed by Rama II himself. The ashes of Rama II are interred in the base of Buddha image in the temple. Despite of its name, the temple offers exotic views during the sunset. The smaller satellite prangs are dedicated to wind god Phra Phai. The Prangs are embellished with sea shells and bits of colored porcelain.
The dazzling and spectacular Grand Palace is definitely the iconic landmark of Bangkok, without seeing which, no visit to Bangkok would ever be complete. Since 1782, palace had been the home of Thai Kings and seat of administrative government. The palace has an area of 218,400 sq. meters and is encircled by the walls built in 1782. The building had Thai War Ministry, State departments and even the mint. Grand Palace is not a single structure, and rather it is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions, open lawns, gardens and country lands. The building is divided into several quarters; The Temple of Emerald Buddha, the Outer Court, and the Middle Court; including the Phra Maha Monthien Buildings, the Phra Maha Prasat Building and the Chakri Maha Prasat Building; the Inner Court and Siwalai gardens quarter. The robes of Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew are changed by HM King of Thailand with change of the season and this forms a very prominent ritual in Buddhist Calendar. The Outer Court of palace used to house government departments including civil, administration, army and treasury. The Temple of Emerald Buddha is at one corner of the Outer Complex. Center Court used to be residence of kings and there were also located halls for conducting businesses. Inner Court used to be for king’s royal consorts & his daughters. The other highlights of Grand Palace include; Boromabiman Hall and Amarinda Hall, the original residence of King Rama I and Hall of Justice. The Royal Reception Hall of Grand Palace is used for ceremonial occasions of greater prominence. A strict dress code is applied in the Grand Palace as the Temple of Emerald Buddha is considered to be the most sacred site.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Suthep is one of the most sacred temples of Chiang Mai. King Kew Naone established the temple in 1383 and it shares a mystical birth story as other temples. A Sukhothai monk asked Lana king to establish a temple with the twin miraculous Buddha relic. The relic was placed on a white elephant, which wandered around mountain till it died at spot, where temple was erected. You can reach temple by mounting 300 intricately carved, mythical Mega Serpent Staircase, which is also taken as an act of meditation. The 1st floor terrace o the temple houses the shrine to Sudeva, the hermit and a statue of the white elephant. The 2nd floor terrace has picturesque golden chedi enshrining the relic and is also topped by a five-tiered umbrella, honouring the city’s freedom from Burma and its unison with Thailand. The temple is a part of Doi Suthep National Park that is a richly forested area with 330 species of birds. Both the terraces are adorned by large bells that are rung by pilgrims to bring good luck. Wat Doi Suthep also hosts and organizes largest celebrations of Maha Puja, the anniversary of Buddha’s sermons, of the Northern Thailand and Visakha Puja, the Buddha’s birthday.
Bangkok is the city where the conventional and foreign co-exist as a ‘pat tai’ palate. These contradictions give ‘City of Angels’ its multi-faceted vibes. Here in Bangkok, you can see climate-controlled megamalls co-existing with 200-year-old village homes, Buddhist temples sharing space with neon bit strip of sleaze and long tailed boats in the royal river overtaking slow moving traffic. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand and known as ‘Krung Thep Maha Nakhon’ in Thai meaning, ‘city of angles’ is also the largest urban area.
The city had been a small trading post for years, till King Rama l, the first monarch of present Chakri dynasty, made it the capital of Siam in 1782. Since them, Bangkok is the spiritual, cultural, political, diplomatic, educational and commercial reservoir of Thailand. The city still holds its Siamese heritage in its tangy food, rich culture, ethnic architecture and Thai hospitality. Though city has got a big economic boom, the glory and grandeur of its exemplary past still prevails. Be it the mesmerising temples, astounding palaces, world-renowned floating market or vibrant Chinatown; each site in Bangkok has an exclusive story to relate. The city is also famous for its sensational street and night life and for its notorious red-light area. The regal Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho are in sharp contrast with night life scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. The City is ranked as the ‘most visited city’ in Master Card’s Global Destination-Cities index. The renowned sights in Bangkok include; Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Giant Swing, Erawan Shrine, Vimanmek Mansion, Dusit Palace, Tim Thompson House, Bangkok National Museum, Royal Barge, National Museum, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Taling Chan Floating Market, Khaosan Road, Wat Suthat, Wat Saket, The National Gallery Museum, Suan Pakkad Palace, Siriraj Medical Museum, Queen Sirikit Park, Lumphini Park and Princess Mother Memorial Park.
Chang Mai is the largest and culturally prominent city in the Northern and earlier, was the capital of Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai means ‘A new city’ and was named so because the city became the new capital of Lana Kingdom in 1296. The city is located among the rolling foothills of Himalayan Mountains. The ‘walled city’ of Chiang Mai is its historical and cultural center and has more than 30 temples built in Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles and is adorned with spectacular wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas outlined with gold filigree. The most famous is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai has still retained its ethnicity and natural charm and is therefore called ‘The Rose of the North. The City boasts of various religious and natural vestiges including; Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Laung, Wat Chet, Wiang Kum Kam, Wat Umong, Doi National Park, Doi Inthanon Elephant National Park, Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Chiang Mai National Museum, Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Postal Museum, Art in Paradise, Chaing Mai Zoo and Aquarium, Mae Sa Waterfall, Dokmai Garden, Phu Ping Palace Royal Flora Ratchaphruek.