The Grand Palace

Trip Start Jun 12, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2009

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Friday, June 19, 2009

19 June

Today we went on a tour of Thailand's Grand Palace.  This place is beyond anybody's wildest imagination.  The structures and the decorative detail of this place is awesome. 

The Grand Palace complex was established in 1782 and it houses not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple ot the Emerald Buddha.  I covers an area of 56 acres and is surrounded by four wall 6,270 feet in length.

After King Rama I's ascension to the throne in 1782 the palace was built. Prior to this, the Royal Palace and center of administration had been located in Thonburi, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River.  For various reasons, the new king considered the former capital to be unsuitable and decided to establish a new capital on the other side of the river.  By his royal command, a new palace was built to serve not only as his residence, but also as the site of some administrative offices.  The royal compound has been known, since then, as the Grand Palace.  The two early structures erected within the complex were the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, aand the Phara Maha Monthian, and was located slightly north of the original structure. When king Rama VI ascended through the throne, he saw to it that the new Borom Phiman be renovated. Among the inovations was the quadrangular dome over the inner chamber with frescoes depicting the Siamese conception of the Vedic Gods of India, venerated as the guardians of the universe. Beneath these gods are inscribed with the ten kingly virtures to be observed by a monarch. On the east side, beneath the God Indra are the virtures of danam (giving ), silam (righteous conduct), and pariccagam (personal sacrifice, material as well as spiritual). On the south side beneath the god Yama are the virtures of ajjavam (honesty and freedom from pretence), maddavam (gentleness and humility), and tapam (concentration of effort). On the west side and beneath the God Varuna are hte virtues of akkodham (freedom from anger), and avihimsa (freedom from malace). Finally, on the north side under the God Angi are the virtues of khanti (patience) and avirodhanam (avoidance of wrong doing).

To the south of the Borom Phiman mansion lies the tastefully portportioned Chapel of the Crystal Buddha (the buddha Ratana Stran hall) and to the west the Mahisorn Prasat, a gabled pavillion built by King Rama IV to inshrine the relics of his father King Rama the II. Beyound these buildings lies the Sutthai Sawan Pavillion, used occasionally for the past for ceremonies in hot weather, and the Sivalai Maha Prasat Hall which formally housed the statues of his Majesty the Kings' predecessors, which were removed from the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha.

North of the royal residence and linked by a connecting gateway lies the royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most venerated sites in Thialand where people convene to pay respects to the lord Buddha and his teachings. The Enerald Buddha is inshrine on a golden traditional Thai-style throne made of gilded-carved wood, known as Busabok, in the ordination hall of the royal monastery. The sacred image is clad with one of the three seasonal costumes (summer, rainy season, and wintger). The costumes are changed 3 times a year in a ceremony presided over by His Majesty the King.  (The above paragraphs were extracted from a "Guide to the Grand Palace".
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