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Wat Traimit in Bangkok's Chinatown
Temple of the Gold Buddha
Wat Traimit or Temple of the Golden Buddha houses one of the most prized relics in Bangkok, one of the largest sitting solid gold Buddha in the world.
Today it rests in a brand new temple just completed in February 2010 all for devout Buddhists to worship and tourists to awe at. It is a solid gold statue weighing 5 tons after all. How often do we get to see that? The Golden Buddha's unique history is shrouded in mystique worthy of a blockbuster Hollywood movie and certainly one of the must see sights on the touring itinerary in Bangkok.
For nearly 200 hundreds the Buddha had been covered in plaster, hidden away from an invading Burmese army. And for 200 years, as time past by the Buddha had been rediscovered by shear fortune or fate as the Thais would believe.
Visiting Wat Traimit is a great place to start exploring Bangkok's China Town community because it is located right where Yaowarat road begins and runs up along where you will find plenty of Chinese businesses selling gold and dim sum restaurants.
There is a museum on the ground level of Wat Traimit where for 100 Baht a ticket you can explore a small museum depicting ethnic Chinese and Thailand's close relationship through history which continues on today.
The ticket includes admission to the 2nd level museum where you can find further history on the the temples famous Buddha as well as the plaster that hid and protected the Buddha for two centuries.
The third level is where the Buddha sits in it's new place where hundreds of devout Buddhists journey to make their offerings of incense and lotus flowers as well as their prayers.
Like any other places of worship shoes must be taken off. The temple provides bags for you to place inside and carry around with you.
How to get to Wat Traimit
The easiest way to get to Wat Traimit is to take the Bangkok's subway train to MRT Hua Lumphong Station which is the last stop. Take escalator exit #1 and continue walking straight across the street, past a canal and make a left on Treemit road. Just a short walk down and you will find Wat Traimit along with several smaller temple complexes and a school.
Admission price for the Golden Buddha: 40 Baht
Admission price for the Chinese History Museum : 100 Baht for Adults and 60 Baht for Children
You can purchase the tickets at a kiosk to the right of the Wat Traimit's entrance. The temple is open from 8am to 5pm daily but is closed on Mondays.
The Golden Buddha
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History of the Golden Buddha
Besides being of a major religious significance no one really knows what the real purpose of the Golden Buddha is a supposed to be. But at a solid gold weight of 5.5 tons and the height of 10 feet it's safe to say it must have been really important in the past as it is today.
Like most Thai history pertaining to lore and legend there really is no accurate account of when the Golden Buddha was made. However the general consensus is that it was made during the 13th century. One significant clue is the style of the Buddha which puts it at the period of Sukhothai era and points to its origins to Ayyuthayah, which was capital of Thailand at the time.
During a war with Burma who's invading army were at the doorsteps of Ayyuthayah the Buddha was hastily plastered (some of the plaster can be seen on the 2nd floor museum in Wat Traimit) presumably by monks and wasn't discovered until 200 hundreds years later when it was moved around and settled on the grounds of Wat Traimit.
Somewhere along the 1950s the plaster covered Buddha was moved by crane to a temple in Wat Traimit when it slipped off a rope and crashed to the ground during a rainstorm. This was bad luck so the workmen ran away and left it where it fell. After wards there are 2 accounts to the story. First is a monk had a dream and was told that the Buddha was special and needs to be checked on. Lo and behold he struck gold. The second story is a monk just went to check if there were any damages only to find chunks of plaster on the ground and a glint of gold revealing the Buddha's true property. For some reason alternate scenarios are always prevalent in Thailand's stories and history that never ceases to fascinate me.
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