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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is situated inside the Grand Palace, which is a complex of royal and government buildings located in the center of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace is known as one of the most famous landmarks in Bangkok and has served as the home of the Thai King and the Royal Court, as well as the administrative seat of government, for over 150 years. The palace was built in 1782 and covers an area of 218,000 square meters.

Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew)

Nestled within the heart of Bangkok’s Grand Palace lies the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a sanctuary of tranquility and historical richness. This sacred site, often referred to as Wat Phra Kaew, stands as a testament to Thailand’s unwavering spiritual traditions and architectural brilliance.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
The building on the left is the Buddhist library, called Phra Mondop in Thai. It was built during the reign of King Rama I in 1789 to house the Buddhist scripture. On the right is the Phra Sri Rattana Chedi entrance.

Wat Phra Kaew houses a revered Buddha figurine, intricately carved from green jadeite. Standing at 26 inches, this figurine symbolizes deep meditation and prosperity for the nation. Legend has it that this Buddha figurine, originating from India or Sri Lanka, blesses the land it resides in. The temple, guarded by strict protocols, allows only the Thai King to come close or touch the figurine, adding a layer of regality to its spiritual significance.

King Rama I constructed the temple and enshrined the Emerald Buddha there as a symbol of Siamese regained sovereignty.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
The Ayutthaya style of architecture refers to the architectural tradition that developed during the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350-1767).

Constructed in 1782 by King Rama I, the temple mirrors the Rattanakosin architectural style, reminiscent of the ancient capital Ayutthaya. A captivating fusion of diverse architectural elements, from golden embellishments to polished orange and green tiles, showcases Thailand’s uncolonized evolution in design. The complex, part of the royal grounds, is a mesmerizing blend of religious sanctity and regal opulence. Wat Phra Kaew has maintained its original appearance since its construction, with only minor restorations made to the paintings (Ramakien) on the perimeter wall which is restored regularly.

Exploring the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Enchanting Ramakien Murals

Wat Phra Kaew
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
Phra Sri Rattana Chedi in Sri Lankan style.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
The entrance is guarded by a pair of demonic guards known as yakshis (mythical giants) – 5m (16ft) high statues.
Wat Phra Kaew
The entrance of Phra Mondop, the library.
Wat Phra Kaew
The Ayutthaya period saw the development and evolution of Thai architecture, laying the foundation for the subsequent architectural styles seen in the Rattanakosin era and beyond.
Wat Phra Kaew

As you explore the temple, intricate tile works and various mosaic styles unveil a visual feast resulting in an unforgettable experience. Mythical creatures, such as the half-man, and half-bird Kinnara, add a mythical charm to the surroundings. These creatures believed to originate from the Himalayas, serve as protectors in times of danger, enhancing the mystical aura of Wat Phra Kaew.

Kinnara – mythological creature, Wat Phra Kaew

Statues of Kinnara – mythological creature, half bird, half man.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
A courtyard near Prasat Phra Thep Bidon.
Kinnara – mythological creature
Close-up of Kinnara – mythological creature, half bird, half man.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)

Despite the Ayutthaya Kingdom‘s fall in 1767, remnants of its architecture persist in modern-day Thailand’s historical sites and ruins

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
Phra Mondop building in the center containing sacred Buddhist manuscripts.

Within the complex, King Rama I erected Phra Mondop, a Thai-style library housing Ayutthaya-inspired mother-of-pearl doors, and sacred Buddhist manuscripts (Tripitaka). The library stands as a repository of knowledge, surrounded by dragon-headed nagas (snakes) and images of Chakri kings, creating an atmosphere of wisdom and historical significance.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
The entire temple complex is more like a personal chapel of the Thai royal family. Unlike other temples in Bangkok, the Temple of Emerald Buddha does not contain living quarters for monks. The temple only consists of elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas.

The Ramakien Murals: A Visual Epic

The compound wall surrounding the temple stretches over 2 km and boasts murals illustrating the Thai national epic, the Ramakien. These vibrant paintings, restored regularly, narrate the tales of the Ramayana, emphasizing values of honesty, faith, and devotion. The clockwise progression of 178 scenes on the wall intricately weaves the entire epic story, making it a captivating visual journey for visitors.

Ramakien Murals
The Ramakien is a Thai adaptation of the Indian epic Ramayana. It narrates the heroic exploits of Prince Rama, his wife Sita, and his loyal companion Hanuman. The Thai version incorporates local elements, making it distinct from the original Hindu text.

Ramayana: A Cultural Tapestry

Originating from Hindu legends, the Ramayana tells stories of gods’ influence on human lives. The Thai adaptation, scripted during the Ayutthaya kingdom, showcases the enduring cultural tapestry that connects Thailand to its Indian roots. Despite the loss of many editions during the Burmese invasion in 1767, the Thai people have preserved and celebrated this sacred text.

Ramakien Murals
Ramakien Murals

The Ramakien Murals serve to illustrate and preserve the cultural and moral values embedded in the Ramayana. They emphasize virtues such as honesty, faith, and devotion, imparting these values to those who view the murals.

Ramakien Murals
Ramakien Murals
Hanuman on his chariot, a scene from the Ramakien in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok.
Ramakien Murals
Due to exposure to the elements and natural wear over time, the Ramakien Murals undergo regular restoration efforts to preserve their historical and artistic significance. Skilled artisans work to maintain the vibrancy and clarity of the paintings.

Various scenes from the Ramakien mural in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Ramakien Murals
The creation of the Ramakien Murals began during the reign of King Rama I (1782–1809). He played a significant role in the construction and restoration of Wat Phra Kaew. The murals were based on the Ramakien, a literary work commissioned by the king himself.
Ramakien Murals
The Ramakien Murals contribute to the aesthetic beauty of Wat Phra Kaew. They also play a crucial role in showcasing the cultural ties between Thailand and its Indian roots. The narrative reflects shared cultural and religious elements that have influenced Southeast Asia over the centuries.

Various scenes from the Ramakien mural in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Ramakien Murals

Some other remarkable structures that I stumbled upon within the Grand Palace, each with its unique story.


Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall

The Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, blending Thai and European styles, captivates with its green and orange tiled roofs. Commissioned by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1882, the structure embodies a dualistic design. Its lower section reflects European aesthetics, while the upper Thai-styled portion, adorned with green and orange tiled roofs and gilded spires, represents spirituality and divinity. This intentional blend of styles serves as a visual metaphor for the coexistence of traditional Thai culture with global influences.

Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
An old wooden door decorated with the relief of two guards on it.
Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall.

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall

Designed in the shape of a tall mountain, the Dusit Maha Prasat Hall draws inspiration from Mount Meru in Hindu-Buddhist cosmology, signifying the center of the universe in these mythologies. Beyond its architectural significance, the throne hall holds historical importance as a venue for royal ceremonies, including coronations. Although the interior remains inaccessible to the public, the exterior of the building and its surrounding grounds provide visitors with a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of its royal traditions. Through meticulous renovations, the throne hall continues to stand as a symbol of Thai identity, preserving its historical grandeur for generations to come.

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall
Dusit Maha Prasat Hall
Several other buildings near the Dusit Maha Prasat Hall.
Dusit Maha Prasat Hall
Dusit Maha Prasat Hall.

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It all began in my late teens with my father’s Mamiya 35mm SLR camera. Back then, learning photography and becoming a photographer in the traditional sense wasn’t my objective. What truly fascinated me was the power of capturing and preserving moments, allowing me to revisit them later.

As time passed I realized that photography is not just about capturing images; it’s a fascinating journey of exploration and observation that connects us with surrounding realities. It’s the art of seeing, exploring, and imagining the world through a lens—a belief in images’ power to stimulate thoughts and evoke emotions. Each captured moment in time tells a story, allowing the viewer to become immersed in the visual narrative commonly known as storytelling.

Travel Photography by Asif Naqvi

It is all about seeing, observing, and making visual notes.

As I spent more time with my camera, I discovered it to be more than just a device—it became an extension of my creativity, a tool that allowed me to express myself in profound ways. Having ventured into the realm of imagination, when life enabled me to step into the real world, I noticed and discovered a newfound appreciation for nature. Vast landscapes, delicate flora, and fascinating fauna inspired me to see the world anew.

When nature becomes overwhelming, I make my way back to human civilization. I wander through diverse cultures and untrodden paths, finding inspiration in the essence of each place and its people. Travel photography, for me, is a way to connect with the soul of a destination.

Constantly seeking fresh perspectives, I try to push boundaries to capture elusive moments that resonate deeply with the audience. Aksgar is not just an expression of my vision, but an invitation to see the world from a different angle, to find beauty in the seemingly mundane, and to appreciate the manners in which we exist.

With boundless enthusiasm in one hand and a camera in the other,

Aksgar by Asif Naqvi

Aksgar Asif Naqvi

Asif Naqvi is a Digital and Creative Nomad, an award-winning UX and UI Designer, a laid-back adventurer, somewhat of a gadget freak, and a husband and father of two. He is also the person behind Aksgar as a visual storyteller.

Aks Gar ( عکس گر ):
A Persian/Urdu compound word to describe an image maker or a photographer.

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