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Showing posts with label Ornaments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ornaments. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Khlong San neighbourhood is full of historical treasure not found on any tourist map.

Wat Phichaya Yatikaram Worawiharn
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The Khlong San neighborhood is full of historical treasure not found on any tourist map


ONCE A thriving trade hub on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, today the Khlong San neighborhood is a popular biking and walking route with travellers, both local and foreign, and a treasure trove of history dating back to the Thon Buri and early Rattanakosin kingdoms. 
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Despite being a stone’s throw away from downtown Bangkok, it’s a place to escape the city’s fast pace while indulging in a diversity of cultures. Thai temples stand proudly beside Chinese shrines and mosques along the riverside mixed in with old houses and businesses that pay testament to the craftsmanship of the past. 
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In 1829, Thad Bunnag, a regent serving as Somdet Chao Phraya Bor om Maha Pichaiyat, restored an abandoned temple built in the Ayutthaya period and dedicated it to King Rama III. King Rama IV later renamed it Wat Phichaya Yatikaram Worawiharn.
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Located on Somdet Chao Phraya Road, the temple blends classic Thai and Chinese style architecture. A mix of such materials as cement, ballast, coloured tiles and Chinese stones add an exotic touch. 
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The entrance has an auspicious arch decorated with Thai-style ornaments, while a pair of lion-shaped stone statues act as the gatekeepers. 
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 “In the past, most of the properties in Khlong San district were owned by Bunnag family. During his reign, King Rama III had a project to renovate many temples around the town, and Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Pichaiyat was in charge of Krung Thonburi and Phra Nakhon districts. To save time and money, King Rama III renovated all temples with plain walls and roofs. There were no longer any gables or tooth-like ridges on the edge of gables because they made from wood and were therefore not durable,” explains Thanat Bhumarush from the tourism division of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. 
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 This fine mural at Wat Phichaya Yatikaram Worawiharn depicts auspicious symbols such as a falling flower, pomegranate and butterfly.
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A soaring Ubosot stands in middle showcasing a pink Chinese-style pediment on its roof, adorned with beautifully crafted coloured tiles and ceramic-ware that looks like dragons flying in the sky.
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The temple is home to an ancient Sukhothai-style Buddha statue from Phitsanulok province with an oval, smiling face, spiral-like hair and a bulging chest. There’s also a boundary maker fashioned from granite and engraved with a breast chain motif.
The walls are covered with murals depicting such auspicious symbols as a falling flower referencing goodness, a butterfly referring to long life and pomegranate representing numerous descendants.
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“The two-dimensional murals were influenced by the Ayutthaya period. Skilled artisans used organic colours made from natural materials. For example, the white came from shells, the red was blended from sealing lac, the brown was extracted from bark and the yellow obtained from ore,” Thanat says.
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Inspired by Mount Meru, the white beautiful stupa is a combination of Khmer and Indian styles and borrows from the shapes of corn and bells. It houses four gold Buddha statues and four footprints, paying tribute to the four lords of Buddha.
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During the reign of King Rama III, Somdet Thad’s wife built Wat Anong Kharam. This temple is lined with stone boundary makers imported from China and a sacred ubosot that’s home to a Phra Chulanak statue from Sukhothai province. There’s also a small Buddha statue called Phra Phuttamongkol, created by the Bunnag family, that is plated with bronze and copper and contained in a movable gold pavilion and a refined painting that plays with Thai proverbs.
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A little further along on the riverbank stands the Gong Wu Shrine. It was erected back in 1736 as a place of worship by Teochew migrants. Refurbished in 1901, this sacred shrine features a collection of three Gong Wu sculptures from China and a stunning mural telling the story of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang as he travelled with his followers from China to India.
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“The design is based on the principles of feng shui and uses crab-like sculptures to represent the monk’s followers and shows two Western men carrying a shoulder pole,” Thanat explains. 
A short walk from the shrine is the old Laem Thong salt factory, which 50 years ago produced 1,000 tons of salt every month for export to Malaysia and Singapore. Today, the factory is located in Khlong Dao Khanong and distributes saline to Malaysia and Borneo Island for use in the tofu industry.
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Surrounded by old shophouses and warehouses is the Saifee Mosque, a white masjid that mimics the design of the original mosque in Bharuch, India.
Its history dates back to 1907 when an Indian diamond merchant and his family transformed an old warehouse into a two-storey mosque using premium-grade granite and marble left over from the construction of Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall.
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Source - TheNation
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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Chanthaburi a place to reconnect


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The Chantaboon Waterfront Community in Chanthaburi offers a much-welcomed reminder of life away from all those gadgets

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IN THESE days of ever-more rapid information technology, the connections we have to places and people are at risk of being lost. An abundance of information is constantly popping up on our personal screens, telling us where to go, what to do and who to meet, resulting in a disassociation from the physical and psychological realities of daily life.
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Chanthaburi River sweeps through the old community in the eastern province of Chanthaburi
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To reclaim some of what we have lost, my friends and I take a walk along Chantaboon Waterfront Community in Chanthaburi Province. Here, in the province’s oldest area, the Christian church, Chinese shrine, Buddhist temple and old houses lining the waterfront serve up a big dose of reality. A bowl of rice noodles topped with garlicky Mantis shrimp is, for me at least, way more real than the best photos of noodle dishes flying around the social media.
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“Can I have two more bowls? Please. An army marches on its stomach,” Pla, my travel companion, asks the vendor even though our “army” will only be covering a few kilometres at most.
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 In fact, the old waterfront of Chanthaburi River is barely a kilometre long, flowing north to south from Tha Luang Bridge to the Catholic Church. The right bank is lined with old wooden houses and timeworn European-style mansions. The left bank is home to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – Thailand’s largest Catholic Church. The cathedral, with its two towers, is visible from anywhere along the Chanthaburi River waterfront and much like a giant mother hen, guards her chicks on both sides of the river.
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A chapel inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
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“The Chantaboon community, which was once clearly marked on nautical charts, was an important trading port,” says local guide Krit Phetchang. “It was a meeting point for Thais, Chinese and Vietnamese who traded and exchanged wild produce and spices. Chantaboon was also a strategic location for the French during the Franco-Siamese War of 1893.”
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We stop at the church to admire the neo Gothic house of God. Built in 1909, the cathedral celebrated its centennial eight years ago. In fact, the Christianity arrived at the waterfront 300 years ago, when farmers and merchants started trading alongside the river. The present cathedral was built on the site of a chapel constructed in 1711. The chapel is huge and peaceful, and the stained-glass windows are impressive. The statue of the Virgin Mary at the front is decorated with more than 200,000 sapphires – a fitting link between the faith of the locals and city’s gem trade.
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From the cathedral, we cross the bridge to the right bank of the Chanthaburi River.
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Just as in Hoi An in Vietnam, Takua Pa in Thailand’s South and other ancient ports, the residents of Chanthaburi waterfront started trading peppers, scented woods, wildlife hides and rubber sheets with foreign merchants. Today, the one kilometre-long street still includes many private homes and the emerging art galleries, coffee shops and tasty snack stalls entice visitors over the weekends.
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It is a place of contrasts too, with two very different types of architecture, both of them charming.
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The first and the more lavish are the colonial style mansions owned by the royal servants with their sculpted clay ornaments. Then there are the wooden houses with intricate lace-like wooden facades favoured by the wealthy merchants.
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“People of Chanthaburi are recognised for their wealth,” notes the local guide. “The rich sent their children to study in Bangkok or Penang and George Town in Malaysia.
“Unfortunately, the younger generation abandoned their family homes along the waterfront and settled in other towns. Some of the old houses are rented out. Others have been sold off and still more have fallen into disrepair.”
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Source: TheNation
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