Wat Rachabophit

26

Nov
2021

Wat Rachabophit

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The circular form of Wat Rachabophit is a successful architectural blend of East and West. Construction of the temple began under King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1869 and continued for over 20 years. The whole complex is splendidly decorated with porcelain tiles, which were made in China. The focal point is the central, Sri Lankan-style, gilded chedi, whose full height from the terrace is 140 ft (43 m).

Inside the wat are four Buddha images, each facing one of the cardinal points. Leading off from the circular gallery are the bot to the north, the wihan to the south, and two lesser wihans to the east and west: an unusual layout for a Thai wat.

East-West flourishes permeate the complex. The 10 door panels and 28 window panels of the bot are decorated with mother of-pearl inlay that illustrates the insignia of five royal orders. The moldings over the door depict King Chulalongkorn’s seal. The carved, painted guards on the doors are distinctively farang (European), and the interior is decorated in an incongruous Italian Renaissance style.

Accessible through the temple grounds (parallel to Khlong Lot) is a fascinating royal cemetery rarely explored by visitors. The monuments to members of King Chulalongkorn’s family are an eccentric mix of Khmer, Thai, and European styles.

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