The most beautiful temples in Thailand

The sophistication of the architecture, the exuberance of the ornamentation, the brilliance of the golds and colors and, above all, the impression of serenity and deep spirituality that emerges from the places: the temples of Thailand have something to amaze the traveler.

The most beautiful temples in Thailand

In this 94% Buddhist country, these places of worship are part of the daily life of Thai people. They are much more crowded than our churches. Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Bangkok… The temples also bear the memory of the tumultuous history of the kingdom of Siam.

Finally - and this is a paradox - these architectural gems dedicated to Buddhism provide, beyond contemplation, an intense pleasure for the senses to the visitor. Light, form, color and perfumes There, everything is only order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure. An invitation to travel, therefore, to the four corners of Thailand.

Sukhothai or the Golden Age

Sukhothai or the Golden Age

This is where it all started. Sukhothai was the first capital of the kingdom of Siam, freed from the Khmer yoke. In 1238, the first organized Thai state was born there, as well as a dynasty of eight kings who reigned 150 years. A prosperous period for the arts, politics and religion.

Sukhothai , 600 kilometers north of Bangkok, is home to the most important archaeological site in Thailand, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Important by its area, of course, but also by its historical dimension. This is in Sukhothai, during the reign of Rama Khamheng (1275-1371), the Thai alphabet is created and Buddhism Theravada established as the national religion.

From the 13th to the 15th century, the kingdom of Siam also experienced a real artistic golden age with the "Sukhothai style". The particular statuary of the Thai Buddha (perfect oval of the face, fine aquiline nose, head crowned with a flame, etc.) was born in Sukhothai. The architecture of the temples intermingles Sinhalese, Khmer, Burmese and Chinese influences. The arrow of the lotus button temples appears.

The fairly extensive archaeological site offers its share of marvels of stone to the amazed walker. Sukhothai invites you to daydream about the splendors of a lost civilization. Surrounded by a moat of more than a kilometer, Wat Mahathat, with its two gigantic Buddhas, was, in the time of Prince Bang Klang Thao, the temple of the royal family. It is the most important building in the historic park with dozens of prominent temples.

Ayutthaya, the peak of Siam

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya Thailand

After the decline of Sukhothai, the new capital of the kingdom, Ayutthaya, was founded 80 kilometers north of present-day Bangkok. No less than 33 kings reigned there, until the sacking of the city by the Burmese in 1767. The Ayutthaya era saw the apogee of the kingdom of Siam: in the 17th century, it included the current territories of Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

The principle of divine monarchy, still in use in Thailand, was adopted and there were hundreds of official and religious buildings. The population of Ayutthaya has even exceeded one million inhabitants!

Today, Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is located on an island at the confluence of the Chao Phraya and Pa Sak rivers, is quite extensive. It is better to travel by bicycle or motorbike. Located on the island, theWat Phra Sri Sanphet , built in the 15th century, is the most imposing ensemble in Ayutthaya. It was the royal temple, where no monk could reside. Itsched- pointed domes containing relics - are remarkable. Also on the island, Wat Mahatat, totally in ruins, shelters one of the most photographed curiosities of Thailand: a head of Buddha locked in the roots of a fig tree.

Outside the island, two temples are particularly worth seeing: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, built in the 14th century, with its large reclining and draped Buddha, as well as Wat Chai Watthanaram, built in the 17th century, strongly influenced by Khmer architecture. A little gem of balance and harmony.

Chiang Mai, Lan Na kingdom

Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand

No less than 300 temples can be found in and around Chiang Mai ! One reason for this: this northern city, with a provincial atmosphere, was also a capital: that of the kingdom of Lan Na, at the beginning of the 14th century. The architecture of Lan Na, influenced by Burma, is notably characterized by temples with stepped roofs, porches supported by representations of snakes (nagas, link between heaven and hell) and orthogonal chêdis at the top covered with copper.

Most of the temples, accessible on foot, are in central Chiang Mai. The Wat Phra Singh(14th century) is one of the most beautiful complexes in the city. One of the buildings houses the Lion Buddha Phra Singh, a Sukhothai-style bronze statue revered by the Thais. Superb red and gold wall decorations from the 19th century.

Among the other temples to see, Wat Chiang Man (the oldest, founded in the 13th century), Wat Chedi Luang and its 85-meter-high chedi , and Wat Chet Yod , a 15th-century temple with its chedi at 7 tips.

Overlooking Chiang Mai from Mount Suthep (1,676 meters), Wat Doi Suthepworth a trip. The panorama of the city and the plain is magnificent. The monastic complex, grouping together buildings from several eras (pagodas, statues, bells, etc.), is grouped around the original chedi (14th century) covered with gilded copper. Note, a staircase of 309 steps, with its serpentine ramps, and the coexistence of Buddhist and Hindu statues - including that of Ganesh.

Lampang: Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, a wooden treasure

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Thailand
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Thailand
Another gem of Lan Na architecture is a hundred km south of Chiang Mai. The Wat Phra That Lampang Luang (15th century) is, in itself, a reason to visit the province of Lampang, a small town in the north. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand.

Perched on a hill and surrounded by a wall of the 8 th century, it really looks great. It is reached by a majestic staircase whose ramps represent nagas. Once through the door with the beautifully crafted lintel, you access the Luang viharn , the temple's main building, whose powerful teak pillars support a triple roof characteristic of Lan Na architecture, also made of wood and covered with red tiles. Open on the sides, this all-wood viharn is adorned with superb period murals. Basically, an imposing altar ( mondop ) contains a golden Buddha statue of 16th century.

Behind this building, the grand chedî , with its superb copper color, shelters a hair of Buddha which, according to legend (unlikely), would have come in person to the site. It precedes a small chapel, the Ho Phra Phuttabat , sheltering an imprint of Buddha, which makes it prohibited for women. A curiosity: once the door is closed, an inverted reflection of the temple is formed on the wall of the chapel, according to the phenomenon of the camera oscura .

In addition to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, the city of Lampang (15 km away) has many temples worthy of interest, witnesses of the Lan Na era or the Burmese presence. Among these, the splendid Wat Chedi Sao which owes its name to its 20 chediswhitewashed, or Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao that was home to the 15 th century the famous Emerald Buddha (now in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok).

The most beautiful temples in Thailand The most beautiful temples in Thailand Reviewed by IIS Daily on February 08, 2020 Rating: 5

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