Wat Phra Keo

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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is the most sacred of all Buddhist sites of Thailand. This compound is part of the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok and it takes its name from the Buddha image it houses in its ubosoth. Carved from a single piece of jade, the 30 inch high figure is one of the most venerated images of the Buddha in the world. Its origin is unknown, but history places it in Chian Rai, in north-east Thailand in 1464. From there it travelled first to Chiang Mai, then to Lamphun, and finally back to Chiang Mai, from where the Laotians took it to their country. Eventually, the Thais again took possession of it. The statue was then moved to the present complex, purposely built by King Rama I. There the statue is displayed high above an altar and visitors can see it only from afar. Behind the altar and above the window frames are murals depicting the life of the Buddha. The ubosoth is covered by a gilded three-tiered roof and royal griffins stand guard outside it. The wat is extremely ornate and embellished with murals, statues, and glittering gold. The compound is guarded by a number of 20 feet tall helmeted and tile-encrusted statues in traditional Thai battle attire. The inner walls of the complex are decorated with murals depicting the whole Ramakien (the Thai version of the Hindu epic the Rāmāyana) and gold stūpas stand in the grounds.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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