Wat Benchamabophit: The Marble Temple
Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, is a revered Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s renowned for its grandeur, architectural beauty, and cultural significance. For visitors, the temple’s intrigue lies in its intricate craftsmanship and serene atmosphere.
Name (Thai): วัดเบญจมบพิตรดุสิตวนาราม
Address (Eng): 69 Rama 5 Road Dusit, Bangkok
Address (Thai): วัดเบญจมบพิตร แขวงดุสิต เขตดุสิต กรุงเทพมหานคร 10300
GPS Coordinates: 13.76589675, 100.51408768
Opening Hours: 8.00-17.30 daily.
Admission Fee: 50 baht for foreigners.
Length of Trip: 1-2 hours.
Trip Type: cultural / historical.
Age Restrictions: none.
Dress Code: modest and conservative.
Primary Buddhist Sect:
The history of Wat Benchamabophit intertwines with the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and the flourishing of Thai Buddhism during the late 19th century.
In 1899, King Chulalongkorn expressed his desire to construct a new temple in Bangkok that would be dedicated to his father, King Mongkut (Rama IV), who had passed away in 1868. The chosen location for this temple was an orchard known as Bang Khun Prom, which was situated near the royal Dusit Palace.
To bring his vision to life, King Chulalongkorn enlisted the expertise of Prince Naris, his half-brother and a renowned architect. Prince Naris drew inspiration from various architectural styles, including Thai Rattanakosin and European influences, notably Italian Renaissance design.
The construction of Wat Benchamabophit began in 1899 and was completed in 1911, spanning over a decade of meticulous craftsmanship. The temple’s name, “Benchamabophit,” means “the fifth king’s temple” and pays tribute to its founder, King Chulalongkorn – the fifth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty.
In the hallowed ubosot of Wat Benchamabophit, resides a timeless masterpiece of divine grace – the Phra Buddha Chinnarat.
The eyes of this magnificent golden Buddha statue, with their gentle, all-knowing gaze, instill a sense of reverence and tranquility amongst those in its presence. The Phra Buddha Chinnarat sits in a dignified lotus position, his hands gently resting on his lap, exuding an aura of compassion.
During the early hours of the morning, a symphony of whispered prayers and rhythmic chants can be heard resonating with devotion. Monks, draped in saffron robes, kneel in reverence before the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, their heads bowed and palms pressed together in humble submission.
Each moment within this sacred ubosot seems to exist outside of time – a profound intermingling of past, present, and future. The collective energy of centuries of devotion reverberates through the walls, infusing the air with a palpable spiritual essence.
Wat Benchamabophit is known as the Marble Temple due to its unique architectural feature: the predominant use of Carrara marble in its construction.
During King Chulalongkorn’s travels to Europe, he was inspired by the beauty of Italian Renaissance architecture and sought to incorporate elements of it into the design of the temple. Carrara marble, renowned for its purity and smooth texture, was chosen as the primary material for the temple’s exterior.
To fulfill this vision, the king ordered blocks of Carrara marble to be imported from Italy. The marble was meticulously carved and assembled by skilled Thai craftsmen, resulting in the elegant and harmonious structure that stands today.
The extensive use of marble in the temple’s construction was a departure from the traditional Thai architectural style, which typically employed wood and brick. This bold choice not only added to the temple’s grandeur but also symbolized Thailand’s modernization and openness to global influences during the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
The use of marble also reflected the king’s aspiration to create a sacred space of enduring beauty, as marble is known for its longevity and resistance to weathering. It was a testament to his dedication to constructing a temple that would stand as a lasting testament to Thai culture and craftsmanship.
Over the years, Wat Benchamabophit has become renowned for its stunning marble exterior, showcasing intricate details and delicate carvings that highlight the skill and artistry of the craftsmen involved. The marble façade has not only granted the temple its nickname, the Marble Temple but has also contributed to its recognition as one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks.
Wat Benchamabophit, the Marble Temple, is conveniently located in the heart of Bangkok, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here’s how you can reach Wat Benchamabophit using the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway, taxi, or tuk-tuk:
Take the BTS Skytrain to the Victory Monument Station, which is on the Sukhumvit Line (light green line) and the Silom Line (dark green line).
From there, you can either take a taxi or a tuk-tuk to reach Wat Benchamabophit. It’s approximately a 15-20 minute drive from Victory Monument, depending on traffic conditions.
Take the MRT Subway to the Kamphaeng Phet Station, which is on the Blue Line.
From Kamphaeng Phet Station, you can hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk to reach Wat Benchamabophit. The temple is about a 10-15 minute drive away from the station.
Taxis are a convenient mode of transportation in Bangkok. You can simply hail a taxi and provide the driver with the address of Wat Benchamabophit: 69 Nakornpathom Road, Dusit District, Bangkok.
It’s advisable to ask the driver to use the meter or agree on a fixed fare before starting the journey. The travel time and cost will depend on the traffic conditions and your starting location.
Tuk-tuks are a popular and iconic form of transportation in Bangkok. They are three-wheeled open-air motorized vehicles. It’s best to negotiate the fare with the tuk-tuk driver before getting on board, as they usually don’t have meters. Try to agree on a price or ensure that you have a clear understanding of the cost before starting the journey.
It’s important to note that traffic conditions in Bangkok can be quite congested, especially during peak hours. It’s recommended to plan your visit accordingly and allow extra time for travel. Additionally, it’s advisable to dress modestly and remove your shoes when entering the temple as a sign of respect for the religious and cultural traditions.
The best time to visit Wat Benchamabophit, is during the cooler months of November to February. Bangkok experiences a tropical climate, characterized by hot and humid conditions throughout the year. However, the months of November to February offer more pleasant weather, making it a favorable time to explore the temple and its surroundings.
During this period, temperatures are milder, ranging from around 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F), with lower humidity levels. This makes it more comfortable to navigate the temple complex and spend time outdoors in the gardens surrounding the temple.
During peak tourist season, which typically falls during the months of December and January, the temple can get crowded with international visitors. If you want to avoid the crowds, try visiting in November or February, as you may experience a more immersive experience at the temple.
It’s also advisable to plan your visit during the weekdays, as weekends can be busier with both local and international tourists. Weekdays offer a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing you to explore the temple and its intricate details at your own pace.
When visiting Wat Benchamabophit, it is appropriate to dress modestly and respectfully. You should wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Opt for lightweight and comfortable attire suitable for a warm climate, such as a blouse or shirt with sleeves and long pants or a skirt that falls below the knee.
Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, or revealing clothing. Additionally, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering the temple, so consider wearing footwear that is easy to slip on and off.
The amount of time you spend at Wat Benchamabophit can vary depending on your personal preferences. On average, visitors spend about 1 to 2 hours exploring the temple complex, admiring the stunning architecture, and taking in the serene atmosphere. However, you can adjust your visit based on your level of interest in the temple’s features and the time you have available.
Absolutely! Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, is a truly enchanting destination that should not be missed when visiting Bangkok. Whether you’re a spiritual seeker, an admirer of fine art, or simply someone seeking a moment of serenity, this temple offers an authentic and unforgettable experience.
Wat Benchamabophit is generally open to visitors from early morning until late afternoon. The specific opening hours may vary, but it typically opens its doors around 8:00 AM and closes around 5:30 PM.
To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to arrive in the morning shortly after the temple opens. This timing offers several advantages. Firstly, you can avoid the crowds that tend to increase as the day progresses. Enjoying the temple’s serene atmosphere and being able to explore its interior without large crowds can enhance your experience and allow for more peaceful contemplation.
Additionally, visiting in the morning allows you to take advantage of the soft morning light, which can beautifully illuminate the temple and enhance the visual appeal of its marble exterior. The gentle morning rays create a captivating ambiance, accentuating the intricate details and textures of the architecture.