Chances are, you have already seen the image of this temple – it is featured on the back of the 5-baht coin. In 1898, King Rama V ordered the construction of Dusit Palace, the first royal palace outside the city walls. The old Dusit temple and another deserted temple on the palace grounds were dismantled. The new temple was designed by Prince Naris, the famous artist and half-brother of King Rama V. The temple was built using white Carrara marble imported from Italy – hence its tourist name, the Marble Temple. The original name, Wat Benchamabopit means The Temple of the Fifth Great Monarch, which was King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.
The Bot is a prime example of modern Thai architecture. It is a four-sided structure with a four-tiered roof and a corridor in the back. The courtyard behind the Bot exhibits 53 Buddha images representing different periods of Buddhist art. It also has Buddha images from other Asian countries such as Japan China, India and Tibet. Two are worth extra attention: The Sukhotha-style Buddha image in Walking posture and the one in Subduing Mara posture are said to be the most beautiful of their kind.
Inside the temple, the large Buddha image is the replica of Phra Buddha Chinnarat, under which are the ashes of the revered King Rama V.
The area that separates monks from laypeople is connected by bridges, built in several styles such as cup bridge, tusk bridge, image bridge etc.
Wat Benchamabophit is a pleasant place to visit early in the morning when the monks are chanting. Unlike in most other temples, monks don’t go out seeking alms but are instead visited by merit-makers between 06.00-07.00 in the morning. Other good times to visit the temple are during certain festivals that are held there – for information, see the side panel.
THINGS TO KNOW:
Address: 69 Rama V Road
Tel: 0 2281 2501, 0 2628 7947
To get there: it is situated on the corner of Th Si Ayutthaya and Th Phra Ram V, diagonally opposite to Chitlada Palace. Buses 72 and 503, and air-con bus 3 stop nearby.
Open: 06.00-18.00 daily
Other: School on Buddhism on every Sunday, 13.00-16.30
In April: Entering Monkhood Ceremony
In July: Hilltribe Entering Monkhood Ceremony
In October: Tan Kuai Salak Festival.