Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat
Impressive Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat
As a tribute to his mother and grandparents, King Rama III built an impressive temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. His mother lived in this area. The temple was built on an old fortification previously built by King Narai of Ayutthaya during the 17th century. Large trees surround its large compounds and is said to exude a serendipitous air to it. It is a nice place to meditate and relax the mind and soul especially for guests who want a little time alone. The temple is striking to look at because of its Chinese influence as far as the decorations and landscape is concern. There are dragon decorations.
The temple grounds are a haven of greenery which is a surprisingly pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of the nearby capital. Nonthaburi where the temple is located has a rich place in Thai history. In 1636, King Prasat Thong decreed that a canal to be dug to create a short cut from Ban Talat Khwan to Bang Kruai Cana. After that, in 1665 during the reign of King Narai the Great, he gave a royal order to build a fortress at the mouth of the Khlong Mae Nam Om. This fortress was demolished to give way to the construction of Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat during the reign of King Rama III. The workers were ordered to reuse the bricks from the old fortress.
The biggest attraction is the temple’s biggest Buddha image made of bronze. It is enshrined in the ubosot. It is referred to as Phraphuttamahalokaphinanthaptima. Inside the main shrine hall lays beautiful mural paintings. On the outside, beautiful porcelain stucco designs were made in its gables, door and window frames. The large ordination hall is flanked with two smaller prayer halls. The centerpiece of this hall is the impressive Buddha shrine. It has a bright white chedi which was constructed during King Rama IV reign in the mid-19th century. The walls are adorned with pictures of the Royal family during their visit there.
Bangkok commoners often go here during holidays to spend a picnic in the park with their families. One of its newest parks, Thai Sala in the Suan Chalerm Kanchanapisek has nice shady places to rest and watch the beautiful scenery. For the 50th anniversary of King Rama IX’s reign, a new park was constructed on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. This park stands close to Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat and is known as Suan Chalerm Phrakiat.
Other buildings that surround the temple are Phra Wiharn Luang, Wiharn Sila Khao, and Phra Chedi. Kan Parian Luang is a hall for sermons; the style of the building is a mixture of Thai and Chinese architecture. The monks living quarters are outside of the main temple. Their homes can be considered unique when compared with other living quarters found in similar temples. The buildings are elevated which is a throwback to Thailand’s past. The monks do care for the animals because the area has different types of roaming animals like peacocks, turkeys, rabbits and chicken.
How to Get There
Going to Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat one must ride a boat. Take a hop onto the Chao Phraya River Express Boat. This boat runs directly to the Nonthaburi Pier. From this pier, hire a long tail boat to take a short trip to the temple.