Thursday, 13 December 2018

Walking Tour of the Marble Temple Area

Near the northern end of Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue where it meets Si Ayutthaya Road, we begin our walking tour of several nearby spots related to King Chulalongkorn or Rama V (1868-1910), who contributed immensely to the well-being of the Thai nation. From the starting point facing the Equestrian Statue of King Rama V, turn right onto Si Ayutthaya Road and walk straight a little, you will find on your right hand side the Marble Temple or Wat Benchamabophit, built by King Rama V in 1899.

The prime attraction of the place is the main temple (bot) built of white Carara Italian marble. Enshrined in the building is the presiding Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinnarat. It is a bronze replica of the original statue of the Sukhothai period (1238-1438) which is enshrined in Wat Mahathat in Phitsanulok province in the North.

There are several other things of great interest to tourists, e.g. Buddha statues in different postures and styles and small beautiful buildings in the compound.

After admiring the elegance of the temple, walk back to the starting point and go across the Phitsanulok Road. In front of you now is the Equestrian Statue with a magnificent dome building Ananta Samakom Throne Hall on the background, both of which were constructed during the reign of King Rama V. While the former was built with donations by ordinary people, the latter was erected of marble by the King to receive state guests and conduct meetings about state affairs. It once served as the site of the National Assembly. Presently, it is used for royal and important state ceremonies.

On the west of the Ananta Samakom Hall is Ambara Garden (Suan Amporn) with a large compound. It provides a location for fairs and graduation ceremonies. Take Uthong Road on the east of the Equestrian Statue. A short way ahead on your left is the Parliament Building, in front of which is a statue of King Rama VII (1925-1935) who granted Thailand's first modern constitution in 1932.

There is another famous attraction located nearby - Vimanmek Mansion, a palace of King Rama V turned museum. However, since it offers a large number of priceless antiques and splendid architectural styles for exploring, you are recommended to spend a whole day there instead of including it in the above itinerary.

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