Sasadaram (Wat Phra Kaeo), or
the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, situated wi1px the Grand Palace,
near Sanam Luang, is a sacred symbol of the Rattanakosin, or Bangkok,
Dyansty and the most important temple in realm. It was built by
King Rama I, the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, at the same time
as the Grand Palace in 1782, when he established Bangkok as his
capital, in order to serve as the palace chapel, in which traditional
royal ceremonies would be conducted. It thus has a sanctuary for
the performance of Buddhist rites, but no residences for monks.
The temple is richly endowed with
fine art and architecture. The Emerald Buddha image is enshrined
in the phra ubosot, the exterior walls of which are covered with
beautiful designs in gold leaf and glass, while the interior walls
bear murals depicting the life of Buddha and other subjects.
The phra mondop, or library, is set
on a high base surmounted by a stepped pyramid. Inside is reserved
a chest containing the Tripitaka, the Buddhist sacred scripture.
The Royal Pantheon, or Prasat Thepbidon,
has a high spire. Inside are enshrined statures of the eight previous
kings of the Chakri Dynasty.
Next to phra mondop is a miniature
replica of Angor Wat, which King Rama IV had constructed.
The walls of the cloister are decorated
with murals showing scenes from the Ramakian, the Thai version of
the Ramayana. These were originally painted during the reign of
King Rama I and have been restored several times.