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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Temple Talk

Glossary of Temple Term [Bangkok Thailand Guide]

There are hundreds of Thai Buddhist temples (Wat) in Bangkok. Several of these will vary in styles and sizes but will consist of the principles of Buddhist architecture. Many visitors may not be familiar with the structures inside a temple-compound. Therefore, this part will recommend you the concise meaning of Thai Buddhist temple terminology.

Wat

Other words are Thai Buddhist temple or monastery. In general, Wat is substitutes for the collection of several Buddhist structures within the courtyard and enclosed by walls with several gateways.

Anyway, in Thailand the chief religious architectures are Chedi, Ubosoth, Vihara, Prang, Mondop and Prasat. The other buildings that are not very essential - Kuti, Ho Trai, Sala and Ho Rakhang.

Bot or Ubosoth

Other words are Ordination Hall or Convocation Hall or Assembly Hall. Ubosoth are always used for Buddhist clergy performing ritual of the monastic community or other significant ritual ceremonies. Another meaning, Ubosoth is the heart of the monastery and would be a monk centre.

Besides, Ubosoth will always enshrine the Buddha statue. Ubosoth may generally have three doors, both at the front and one at the rear of Ubosoth. The exterior of Ubosoth will be observed by the six boundary stones (Bai Sema or Sema stones). There will only be one Ubosoth in the temple. Some temples may not give the public permission to enter Ubosoth. Only the monks can be permitted to perform ritual ceremonies.

Viharn or Vihara

The sermon hall or Buddhist Monastery is used for enshrining major Buddha statues. Actually, Vihara is a replica of Ubosoth. In Bangkok and the central of Thailand, most Vihara are usually smaller than Ubosoth.

Viharn always opened to everyone to meet and pray together. There are no Sema stones surrounding Vihara like Ubosoth. Maybe, there are several Vihara within the temple.

Sema (Bai Sema or Sema stone)

The marks of boundary are made of stone slabs and represent the sacred ground of the temple. They are usually in leaf-shaped stone, putting up right from the ground and always surrounded Ubosoth by eight boundary stones. However, Sema in some temples had nicely been decorated.

Chofah

Chofah are the decoration as the horn-like finials (gable apex) on the roof ridges of temples. They represent the ‘Garuda’ head, the mythical bird.

Chedi

Other words are pagoda or stupa. Chedi is generally bell-shaped solid structure. In Thailand, Chedi is the most holy sacred religious structure in Thai temple because the underneath of the interior area of Chedi will always contain some relics of the Buddha and some are built to contain some relics of the magnificent revered Buddhist monks.

The prototype of Chedi originated in central India. In Thailand, we are able to see Chedi or Stupa of the classic type in several various forms. However, the round chedi that were often built in Bangkok and the central of Thailand. It has the same elements as the Indian prototype which was introduced from Sri Lanka - a high drum formed by many moldings of the same design, a bell-shaped dome, a square throne surmounted by a low circular colonade supporting the high and slender Chatra (umbrella)

Prang

The Khmer-style religious architecture (Khmer prang), a vertical tall finger-like spire and usually elaborately carved. Later, this feature was later adopted by Thai important religious architecture. Usually, Prang has three niches and one entrance door toward a very steep staircase. The internal area sometimes contains Buddha statues.

In Bangkok, Prangs can be easily found in several Buddhist temples such as Wat Phra Kaew (The temple of Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho, Wat Arun, etc. However, Prangs can be conveniently seen in North-East region of Thailand, such as Phimai Prang, Phanomrung Prang, etc.

Sala

Generally, Sala is any open-sided pavilion. In a temple, these may be used for sermon and resting place to the public.

Like magnificent structures, some Sala were ornamented with glazed tiles and beautiful gilded decoration on the gables.

Ho Trai and Mondop

Other words are Ho Phra or the scripture hall or Buddhist library of the temple. Thai Mondop will be similar to Mandapa of Indian temples.

Mondop is usually a very small and highly decorated building. However, Mondop may be a quare-shape structure, entirely made of bricks. Their pyramidal upper part is formed by two or three layers of roofing or usually topped with a spire section (spire library). Anyway, some Mondop were made of wooden roofing, decorated with wooden carvings, gilded and enriched with multi-color glass mosaics.

Ho Trai or Mondop is the place to contain the Tipitaka (Teachings of Buddha or The Buddhist Scriptures), other important Buddhist religious sacred manuscripts, and some holy objects. Some Mondop may also serve as store room for holy opjects used in religious ceremonies.

Belfry or Bell Tower (Ho Rakhang)

In Thailand, the belfry generally has no special artistic attraction. Normally, belfry is shaped with four wooden or brick poles, and provided a high platform with steps on one or four sides. A pyramidal roof is built over the platform and the bell is suspended within.

Kuti

Normally, Thai temples have the residential section of monks (Sangghavas). Kuti is monks’ living place and varied in several sizes and shapes with simply construction, and no any artistic features.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Wat Pho [Bangkok Thailand Guide]

Wat Pho [Bangkok Thailand Guide]
Royal Wat : First Class
Wat for King Rama I of Chakri Dynasty

Wat Phrachetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram Rajaworamahavihara (Wat Pho), formerly called Wat Photharam, is the first class of Royal monastery, originating in 17th century of Ayutthaya Period before the restoration by King Rama I of Chakri Dynasty. After the restoration, King Rama I renamed the temple Wat Phrachetuphon as Royal temple during a celebration in 1801.

The temple has divided into 2 sections; Buddhavasa (the chapel section, consisted of Pagodas, Monastery halls, churches and Buddha statues) and Sangghavas (the residence of monks).

During the reign of King Rama III, the temple was renovated and lasted 16 years and 7 months by all best craftsmen from the department of the Ten Crafts, and all art work specialists under king’s Royal command. The purpose of great renovation was to elaborate the grand scale of the decorated monastery and to make the temple a center of broad Thai arts and knowledge enhancement for Thai people.

Knowledge in Wat Pho can be varied in several subjects of Thai intellect; sanitation treatise, medicine, Thai tradition massage, literatures, proverbs, Buddhism, geology and astronomy, etc. Therefore, Wat Pho regarded as the first center of public education and became “the first university” for Thai people in Thailand.

The first attraction is the 16 sheltered gates along the walls of the temple. The gates were built in crown-style with multicoloured Chinese mosaic flowers style. Also, you will meet the gate guardians or Chinese rock giants, “Lan Than Nai Tvarapala”, holding weapons in hands, standing on both sides at the gate on the entrance of Wat Pho.

Main Chapel or Phra Ubosoth is the heart of the temple because the main chapel is used performing ritual of the monastic community and would be a monk center. In this assembly Hall, all sheltered windows and doors are made of hard wood with crown–like spires and colour-glazed tiles. The outer side of the entrance door panels was inlaid of mother-of-pearl. These door panels were depicted epic from the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Ramayana).

In Phra Ubosoth, the principle Buddha statue, “Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn”, is in a gesture of concentration, and some ashes of King Rama I were kept under the pedestal (base of the Buddha statue).
The 46 metre long – giant golden reclining Buddha, the Phra Buddhasaiyat, is housed in the Cathedral of sleeping Buddha (Phra Vihara). The image was made of cement bricks gilded with gold leaves. On the sole of the statue’s feet 5 metres long and 1.50 metres wide was inlaid the mother of pearl, indicating the 108 auspicious signs of luck literally (generally called Mongkol 108).

Actually, the reclining Buddha symbolizes the Lord Buddha as he attained Nirvana in Salawan wood of Kusinara city in India.

If you are interested in Thai tradition massage or herbal medicines and diagnosis, you can visit “Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School”. Treatments such as Thai massage and foot massage at Wat Pho are one of the most well-known massage treatments in Thailand. The ancient Thai healing skill can be seen in sculptures compiled on King Rama III’s orders. Besides, every day the large number of Thai people, foreigners come either to study the massage course or to be massaged.

Other interesting features of Wat Pho include the Cathedral of sleeping Buddha (Phra Vihara), The scripture Hall (Phra Mondop or the Tripitaka tower), Phra Chedi Rai (71 small pagodas in a similar style placed in the single-based Chedi), Corner Phra Prang, Phra Rabieng and Phra Vihara Thit, etc.

How to getting to Wat Pho

Located at Sanam Chai Road, Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok
Tel No. 02 222 5910, 02 226 2942

By Bus – 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 25, 32, 43, 44, 47, 48, 51, 53, 60, 82, 91, 123, 124, 201, 203, 506, 507, 508, 512

By Air-con Bus – 6, 8, 12

By Boat - Chao Phraya Express boat - at Tha Chang pier, Tha Tien Pier or Pak Klong Talad Pier, then walk through Thai Wang Road entrance.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wat Phra Kaew [Bangkok Thailand Guide]

Wat Phra Kaew [Temple Guide in Bangkok]

The first must visited temple in Bangkok

Wat Phra Sri Ratana Sasadaram, officially called the temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew, had built in the reign of “King Rama I”, Phra Bat Somdej Phra Phuttha Yod Fa Chula Lok Maha Raja, the founder of the Chakri Dynasty. The construction work had begun in 1782 and completed in 1784.

The temple of the Emerald Buddha, the royal chapel, is located east, adjoining the Grand Palace. The temple is particularly built to house the Emerald Buddha, a Buddha image which King Rama I brought from Vientiane when he captured the city.

Although it is the most national sacred temple, there is no any resident monk. But, it has only elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas.



The Emerald Buddha or Phra Kaew Morakot, the highly revered Buddha image, meticulously carved from a huge block of Jade. It is the Buddha image in the seated meditating position, in the style of the Chiang San School on the north of Thailand.

The Emerald Buddha was first discovered in Chiang Rai province in the reign of King Triloknatha (1441-1487). Later, it was taken to several important cities such as Lampang, Chiang Mai, Luang Phra Bang, and Vientiane.

When 1778 King Rama I overcame over Laos, he had brought it back at Wat Arun in Thon Buri, the capital at that time. And, in 1785, the Emerald Buddha was transferred from Wat Arun to Wat Phra Kaew and then shrined in the Phra Ubosoth (ordination hall) until now.

The Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, originally called Buddha Prang Prasat, was built in the reign of King Rama IV in 1855. This building is a pavilion with four-square Prangs. It is initially considered to enshrine the Emerald Buddha, but too small to accommodate the congregation at royal ceremonies. Now it is used for keeping statues of deceased 8 kings of Chakri Dynasty.

On the four-sides of cloisters like-galleries (Phra Rabiang) around Phra Ubosoth, there are the Mural Paintings depicting Ramakien epic (the Thai version of the Hindu epic, Ramayana). These paintings consist of 178 sections, firstly done in the reign of King Rama I. Later, some parts of Phra Rabiang and paintings were renovated from time to time in the present Chakri Dynasty.

The paintings of Ramayana epic around Phra Rabiang start from north door turn to the west.

The golden Stupa, Phra Sri Ratana Chedi, has a bell shape which is the Ceylonese style. The chedi was built by Rama IV to house a relic of the Buddha. Its form imitates the large chedi of Phra Sri Sanphet temple in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand. Later, in the time of King Rama V had applied the golden tile mosaics to the Chedi.

Phra Mondop, Ho Tri, or the library, was built in the time of King Rama I, containing the new copy of Tipitaka (important Buddhist scriptures). Phra Mondop is based on the Pillars and located between Phra Sri Ratana Chedi and The Royal Pantheon. However, it is almost always closed to the public.

If you have a free time, you can visit Patron Rub ushi, Gate-keeping Giants, Phra Vihara Yod (The spired Hall), Model of Angor Wat, The lined Pavilions (Sala Rai), etc.

This is the guide of the first temple in Bangkok in Bangkok-Thailand Guide

How to getting to Wat Phra Kaew

Located within the Grand Palace, near Sanam Luang, Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok

Tel No. 02 623-5500 ext. 1830, 3100

By Bus - 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 19, 25, 30, 32, 33, 39, 42, 43, 44, 47, 53, 59, 60, 64, 65, 68, 70, 79, 80, 82, 91, 123, 124, 201, 203, 503, 508, 512

By Air-conditioned Bus - 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 25, 38, 39, 44, 59, 524

By Chaopraya river - Tha Chang pier

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Chao Phraya Express Boat

The 30 piers along Chao phraya river will begin at Central Pier all the way up to Nonthaburi province, a Bangkok suburb. Normally, The trip can be more rapid than the equivalent journey by road. For example, a trip from the Grand Palace to the Silom district could easily take over an hour by taxi, while the boat ride will only take around 15 or 20 minutes. However, you are advised to avoid rush hours because of the crowded people using express boat service.

Central Pier: Tha Sathorn (Taksin) , near Taksin Bridge, and is the place to get off at for the nearby Skytrain station. From here you can visit Wat Suan Plu, Wat Yannawa , Shangri-La, Peninsula Hotel, Marriott Riverside

Ordinary bus: 1, 15, 17, 35, 75, 77, 115, 116, 163
Air-conditioned bus: 20, 504

Pier 1: Oriental Hotel – Thailand’s oldest well-known hotel and French embassy

Ordinary bus: 1, 35, 75
Air-conditioned bus: 502, 514

Pier 2: Wat Muang Kae, situated very close to Bangkok's main post office.

Ordinary bus: 1, 16, 35, 36, 45, 75, 93
Air-conditioned bus: 6, 502, 514

Pier 3: Si Phaya – near River City shopping complex, the famous arts and antiques center in Bangkok. Within the building, there are several shops selling antiques, handcrafts and silk clothing. Besides, Tha Si Phaya is located near the Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel, and the Portuguese and Peruvian embassies.

Ordinary bus: 1, 16, 35, 36, 45, 75, 93, 162
Air-conditioned bus: 6

Pier 4: Habour Department

Ordinary bus: 1, 35, 75

Pier 5: Ratchawongse - China Town or Chinese community, a city located at the end of Ratchawongse Road

Ordinary bus: 204

Pier 6: Memorial Bridge near Flower Market, selling flowers, vegetable and fruit and Phra Pokklao bridge.

Ordinary bus: 3, 6, 7ก, 8, 9, 10, 42, 43, 53, 73, 73ก, 82
Air-conditioned bus: 506

Pier 7: Rajinee , close to the Pak Khlong Flower market and Ministry of Commerce.

Ordinary bus: 3, 7ก, 8, 12, 42, 43, 47, 53, 73, 73ก, 82
Air-conditioned bus: 506

Pier 8: Tha Tien - Located near Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and Tha Tien market , Pak Klong Market , Pahurat Market, The Old Siam , Wat Prayoon, Princess Mother Memorial Park , Wat Pichai Yathikaram, etc.

Ordinary bus: 1, 25, 32, 44, 47, 48, 53, 82
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 508, 512

Pier 9: Tha Chang – located near the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, The Grand Palace, National Museum, Wat Mahathat, Sanam Luang and other interest places.

Ordinary bus: 1, 25, 32, 44, 47, 53, 82, 91, 123, 124, 201, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 501, 506, 508, 512

Pier 10: Wang Lang (Siriraj) – located near Siriraj Hospital – the first royal hospital ordered by King Rama V, Patravadi Theatre - open-air playhouse located on the western side of the Chao Phraya River, opposite the Grand Palace and adjacent to the royal temple of Wat Rakhang, Supatra River House - the two-storey traditional Thai House on the bank of the Chao Phraya River near the temple of Dawn and Wat Rakhang Khositaram – Royal temple of King Taksin of Thonburi who also sponsored the revision of the "tripitaka" scriptures at the temple.

Ordinary bus: 19, 57, 81, 83, 91, 149, 157

Pier 11: Thonburi Railway , near Bangkok Noi (Thonburi) train station.

Ordinary bus: 19, 56, 57, 81, 83, 91, 149, 157

Pier 12: Phra Pin Klao Bridge, located across the river from Tha Phra Arthit, in the Pin Klao district and near the Royal Barge Museum.

Ordinary bus: 19, 30, 42, 57, 68, 79, 80, 81, 91, 123, 124, 127, 165, 169, 201, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 10, 170, 171, 174, 183, 503, 507, 509, 511, 516

Pier 13: Phra Arthit (Banglamphu), situated at Phra Arthit road near Khao San road accommodation (well-known cheap guesthouse) and the Banglamphu area sights such as Wat Chana Songkram , Wat Bowoniwet and National Museum

Ordinary bus: 3, 6, 9, 15, 19, 30, 32, 33, 43, 53, 64, 65, 82
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 516

Pier 14: Rama 8 Bridge, located at the foot of the spectacular new Rama VIII Bridge and near the Wat Indrawiharn temple.

Ordinary bus: 3, 6, 9, 10, 19, 30, 32, 33, 43, 49, 53, 64, 65
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 516

Pier 15: Thewet – situated at the edge of the Dusit area, near the limited accommodation on Sri Ayuthaya road, the National Library and the Thewet Flower market. Besides, an interesting sights such as Vimanmek Mansion and Wat Benjamabophit are located at Dusit area nearby.

Ordinary bus: 3, 9, 19, 23, 30, 32, 33, 43, 49, 53, 64, 65, 72
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 516

Pier 16: Krung Thon Bridge

Ordinary bus: 18, 28, 56, 66, 108, 110, 125, 164
Air-conditioned bus: 4, 510, 515

Pier 17: Wat Thep Naree

Ordinary bus: 10, 18, 108, 110, 175, 203

Pier 18: Payap

Ordinary bus: 3, 9, 14, 16, 30, 32, 33, 49, 64, 65, 66
Air-conditioned bus: 505, 506

Pier 19: Irrigation Department

Ordinary bus: 3, 9, 16, 30, 32, 33, 49, 64, 65, 66
Air-conditioned bus: 505, 506

Pier 20: Kheaw Khai Ka

Ordinary bus: 3, 9, 16, 30, 32, 33, 49, 64, 65, 66
Air-conditioned bus: 505, 506

Pier 21: Kiak Kai

Ordinary bus: 3, 16, 30, 32, 33, 49, 51, 64, 65, 66, 90, 117
Air-conditioned bus: 505, 506, 521

Pier 22: Bang Po

Ordinary bus: 5, 16, 30, 32, 33, 49, 64, 65, 66, 90, 117
Air-conditioned bus: 505, 506, 521

Pier 23: Wat Soi Thong

Ordinary bus: 5, 32, 33, 49, 64, 90, 117
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 521

Pier 24: Rama 7

Ordinary bus: 18, 49, 50, 110, 179
Air-conditioned bus: 15

Pier 25: Pibul 1

Ordinary bus: 32, 33, 63, 64, 65, 90, 97, 117, 175, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 15, 506, 545

Pier 26: Wat Khema

Ordinary bus: 32, 33, 63, 64, 65, 90, 97, 117, 175, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 15, 506, 521, 543

Pier 27: Wat Tuek

No bus connecting

Pier 28: Wat Kien

No bus connecting

Pier 29: Pibul 2

Ordinary bus: 32, 33, 63, 64, 65, 90, 97, 114, 117, 175, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 15, 506, 545, 1053

Pier 30: Nonthaburi (Pibul 3)

Ordinary bus: 30, 32, 33, 63, 64, 65, 90, 97, 114, 117, 175, 203
Air-conditioned bus: 506, 521, 545, 1053

See also Connecting Route : By bus, by Sky Train (BTS)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tips for Temple Visitors [Bangkok Thailand Guide]

Tips for Temple visitors [Bangkok Thailand Guide]


When you visit Royal temples such as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, etc or other Buddhist Temples

  • Wear appropriate attire. Don't visit in shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless shirt.
  • Other unsuitable attire - sandals and flip-flops are also not allowed.
  • Before you go inside any buildings, you must take off your shoes outside.
  • Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is regarded as a sacred object.
  • Never climb onto any sacred objects to take a photograph or do anything which might indicate a lack of respect.
  • To respect Buddha image, you must sit with your legs tucked under your body and make sure that your feet are not pointing at anyone.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Bangkok Thailand Guide

Welcome to my bangkok-thailand-guide blog. Here you will learn about bangkok-thailand-guide tips and how to find good information.

Facts of Bangkok Chao Phraya Express Boat

Glossary Temple Talk

Tips Tips for temple visitors

Thai culture

Temple Wat Phra Kaew Wat Pho