Saturday, May 25, 2013

Travelogue: The Buddha in the gold robe

Pic of Emerald Buddha from Wiki
There was quite a lot to admire in this place – hanuman inspired statues, mythical figures and huge guardians that were facing inwards (traditionally guardians face outwards but here it was the opposite with reasoning that they surrounded and kept watch on the Emerald Buddha). 

The highlight was the central building that housed the Emerald Buddha. We had to leave our footwear outside before stepping in; and what a sight it was. I’m sure I can’t describe it; the entire interior beautifully decorated with a lot of gold and gold plated items that makes you feel as if you are in a different world. And way above, close to the ceiling, on a throne was the dark green figure of the Emerald Buddha with a golden robe. 

It seems there are three different golden robes and they are changed three times in a year by the King (summer, rainy and cool season). Around the Buddha everything glitters in gold! Legend has it that the older the Buddha figurine, the more energy it has and the more valuable it is. And so there used to be a lot of fights in the past for them. The Buddha isn’t actually made out of emerald but jade. It is truly a sight to behold.

Thai Royal Guard
We prodded our expert to take a glimpse but he was completely exhausted – short of sleep, feeling sick and he didn’t want to have breakfast in hotel as well. So we went around the building and that led us to the Grand Palace – this had some more buildings but many are closed on weekends; it was used as the residence by the king but nowadays is used for official functions. 

There was a Thai royal guard at the entrance; the royal guards are very similar to the Queen’s guards in London – they stand still, focused with intense concentration with no expression on their face. They are the protectors of the royal family. After taking a few snaps with the guard we moved on. I returned the audio guide – it took us about 1.5 hours to complete the two places.

Tip: Visit on a weekday and probably around lunch time because that’s when crowds are less.
Just near the Grand Palace is the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles; if you have a ticket to the Palace then you can enter here for free. A grand staircase takes you to the first floor where the museum is located – the ambience was great; you don’t feel it is a dull place. They have a few dresses on display to illustrate how the Thai cultural dress for women has evolved – inspired by the Indian saree and Japanese kimono; they had created a sort of hybrid.

Interestingly there were hardly a couple of men’s wear on display while there were a dozen dresses for women!

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