On our second day in Thailand, we were scheduled to go on our half-day Bangkok city tour and, after that proceed to the resort city of Pattaya in the afternoon. After our breakfast at the Rajah Hotel, we were picked up at the hotel lobby by our lady guide from Goodwind Tours and boarded an airconditioned van. Our itinerary included 2 Guinness Book of World Records-worthy temples and a visit to a jewelry store.
The first item in our city tour itinerary was the relatively plain looking Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) in the Yaowarat (Chinatown) area. However unremarkable the temple may look outside, inside it houses a most valued treasure of Thailand and of Buddhism, the 5.5-ton Golden Buddha, the largest solid gold Buddha image in the world. The statue measures 3.98 m. (about 10 ft.) high, 12 ft. 9 in. in diameter and 3.13 m wide from knee to knee.
The Buddha was originally placed in an Ayutthaya temple and was camouflage from Burmese invaders by being given a thick plaster coating. Subsequently “lost,” the encased statue was later moved to Choti-naram Temple (or Wat Phrayakrai) in Bangkok during the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851). When the temple was deserted about 1931, the plaster-covered Buddha was moved to Wat Traimit in the mid-1950’s. As it was being moved to its permanent building, the rain-soaked figure was accidentally dropped, cracking the stucco to reveal the figure inside.
On February 14, 2010,the Golden Buddha was transferred to the third level of an impressive chapel and is now perched high atop a 4-storey, marble-clad ziggurat.
The Golden Buddha (officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon), built in parts of India and assembled at the site during the 13th century Sukhothai Period, is represented in the traditional pose of bhumisparshamudra (touching the earth with the right hand to witness Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment at Bodh Gaya). At the temple, local worshipers also rub gold leaf on the other Buddha images.
Wat Traimit: Traimit Rd., Samphanthawong District, Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand. Open daily, 9 AM-5 PM.