Monday, August 13, 2012

Historical Highlights

executive summary by darmansjah

SIGHT SEEING IS ALWAYS A REWARDING experience in Thailand, thanks to a network of masterfully preserved temples, palace, and traditional homes. Prime examples of the kingdom’s illustrious architectural heritage stand proud even in bustling, modern Bangkok. When King Rama I moved his capital here in 1782, he began a new era in Thai architecture-named the Ratanakosin style-with the construction of his Grand Palace complex and its Temple of the Emerald Buddha. A blend of Ayutthaya styles, Chinese-style murals, and subtle Western influences, the complex is considered the crowning glory of Thai architecture. Two more temples of note in Bangkok are Wat PO, home of the world’s largest reclining Buddha, which dates back to the 16th century, and Wat Arun, or the ‘Temple of Dawn,’ which bears Khmer and Chinese accents.

Farther north in the fertile central plains are the ancient capitals of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, both of which offer a wealth of evocative ruins to explore. The northern province of Chiang Mai has treasures of its own, including Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, whose grounds are home to the International Buddhism Center ( first established in 1383, the temple is perched on a panoramic hilltop outside Chiang Mai city, and offers such highlights as a serpent-flanked staircase of 300 steps, a copper chedi (stupa), and a five-tier gold umbrella, all of which are considered to be very auspicious.

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