Chapel of the Emerald Buddha

The Emerald Buddha, like many revered Buddha images in Thailand, seems to have a rather mysterious history. The ubosot (chapel) housing the Emerald Buddha is actually the only original building in the temple. It was built at the same time as the temple in 1783 to 1785. Like most of the buildings in the compound, the ubosot's exterior is finished in colored mirror tiles and gilt carving. The eaves are lined with bronze bells which tinkle is the slightest breeze.

Chapel of the Emerald Buddh
The chapel housing the Emerald Buddha

Entry to the chapel is on the east side. The doors are inlaid with mother-of-pearl designs from the Ramakian, the same epic which illustrates the gallery. Inside, the Emerald Buddha sits high up on a gilt alter. The image, which was carved from a solid piece of green jadeite, not emerald, is 66 centimeters (26 inches) tall and about 48 centimeters (19 inches) across at the lap. The image has three golden 'costumes' which are changed with the seasons by His Majesty the King or one of his children. You can see the various outfits in the regalia museum near the entrance to the temple.

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On either side of the high alter are screens which create a private area for the royal family when visiting the temple. In front of the Emerald Buddha are several other Buddha images placed there by the kings of the dynasty. The two lowest images were placed there by the present king. One in 1987 on his sixtieth birthday, and the other in 1988 when he became the longest reigning Thai monarch.

Note that you must remove your shoes to enter the ubosot, and no photography is allowed inside the chapel.