Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok

Explore a short history of the Wat Pathum Khongka Temple and its surrounding area.

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There has been a Buddhist Temple on this site since before Bangkok became the capital of Siam (as Thailand was previously known) in 1782. The temple originally had a different name, Wat Sampeng, and dates back to the Ayutthaya period. It was renovated during the reign of King Rama I by a wealthy local Thai citizen who gave the temple its current name.

A macabre history

From the outside, Wat Pathum Khongka seems charming yet unremarkable. One imagines a place of quiet refection playing host to Buddhist ceremonies, traditional weddings and similar. However, when one delves a little deeper into its history, a grisly past is unearthed. In addition to being a place of worship, the temple was also used as an execution ground. At the back of the site still stands the Thaen Hin Paraharn Kabot (literally the rebel execution stone) upon which King Rama III ordered the execution of Krommaluang Rak Ronnaret for planning a rebellion against him in 1848.

The canal in front of the temple is regarded as a holy site, and the cremation ash of members of the royal family alongside their royal white elephants have been scattered here for centuries.

The surrounding area

The temple is situated on the Song Wat Road which is a bustling commercial hub situated in Bangkok’s Samphanthawong district. The name Song Wat literally translates to ‘drawing by the king’. The name derives from a line drawn on a map by King Rama V who was responsible for the renovation of the area after a great fire destroyed many of the buildings in 1892.

Today, the road boasts a large number of commercial outlets that are regularly frequented by tourists and locals alike. From shops specialising in agricultural products like dried fruits and beans to handcrafted items such as wooden hot tubs and intricate wedding trinkets, there is something here for everyone.

 

Photo credit:  Supanut Arunoprayote., CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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