Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit is a fully functioning Theravada Buddhist temple also known as The Marble Temple and is located in Bangkok, Thailand. The name ‘Wat Benchamabophit’ means ‘Temple of the Fifth King’. The temple was ordered by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1899 and was designed by his half-brother, Prince Narin. King Chulalongkorn wanted a temple close to his home, the Dusit Palace, which is also near Wat Arun and the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. When Wat Benchamabophit was completed in 1911 it boasted a Thai architectural design influenced by European neo-classical ideas. The outside is made of Italian Carrara marble, including the immediate ground surrounding the temple, the pillars and the lions guarding the entrance, with the inside being decorated with lacquer and gold. The inside of the temple houses over 50 Buddha statues from around the world and the main Buddha statue in the temple is the cover for where  King Chulalongkorn’s ashes are stored.

When we went to this temple, it was late in the evening and it was closed. Our tuk-tuk driver wanted to avoid the heavy traffic in the area, so after visiting Wat Arun he brought us to this temple to kill time before heading back to our hotel. We had planned on visiting earlier in the day, but Bangkok has so many fascinating temples and sights to see that we ended up skipping it so we could make it to some of the other temples we had higher on our list. I’m glad our tuk-tuk driver recommended we stop here and wait for a little while even though the actual temple was closed. We were still able to wander around outside and enjoy the temple grounds.

The grounds around the temple are very beautiful and even though it is close to the road, it was quiet and peaceful there. We saw a few monks wandering around the temple and they gave us friendly nods as we wandered around and took pictures of the outside of the temple. I was really impressed with how beautiful the temple is and how it seemed to glow. I really loved how the marble of the walls seemed to shimmer in the light and how it changed shades as you walked around the building. It really is a beautiful temple.

One of the other things I liked about this temple was the layout of the grounds. It was dark when we were there, so we didn’t see everything there is to the grounds, but the area we wandered through had a nice layout which allows for peaceful walks among flowers, shrubbery and trees. There is also a little river that runs through the temple grounds with small bridges to cross on. We heard there were turtles there, but it was too dark to see anything in the water.

Another interesting tidbit is that in 2005 this temple was submitted to UNESCO as a future World Heritage Site. I’d think it would be because it is unique in regards to the usual Thai temple standards. This temple is very symmetrical in all regards with an oblong shape and has European influences while most other Thai temples stick to the Thai theme. There are also stained glass windows in the inside, which is something we hadn’t seen at any other temple we went to in Thailand. A difference that is not easily noticed is that the roof of this temple has more layers than the standard Thai temples. Another factor I would think contributed to the temple being recommended as a UNESCO Site would be the collection of Buddha statues inside. Some are actual artifacts from other countries and some are just replicas. Either way, it is an impressive collection and makes this temple an even more interesting place to visit.