Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Phnom Penh - Silver Pagoda

Date of visit: 28th December 2014

The Silver Pagoda is located on the south side of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh. It was formerly known as Wat Ubosoth Ratanaram. At present day, the temple has change it's official name to Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot ("Temple of the Emerald-Crystal Buddha") which is commonly shortened to Wat Preah Keo in Khmer. For those who wishes to visit, I would recommend a 2 in 1 attractions at 1 go, i.e. to include a visit to Royal Palace. The compound of these 2 places makes it worth to visit at once.

The Vihara houses many national treasures including gold and jeweled Buddha statues, hence, you must make sure that you entered this place. Most notable item on display is a small 17th century baccarat crystal Buddha, called as the "Emerald Buddha" of Cambodia. Another 1 is a life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha decorated with 9584 diamonds, the largest diamond said to weighs 25 carats. It was created in the palace workshops during 1906 and 1907. This gold Buddha weighs in at 90 kg in total and is dressed in royal regalia commissioned by King Sisowath. During King Norodom Sihanouk's pre-Khmer Rouge reign, the Silver Pagoda was inlaid with more than 5,000 silver tiles and some of its outer facade was remodeled with Italian marble. However only a small area of these tiles are available to be viewed by the public on entering the pagoda.

Vihara House - the outside
Vihara house - the inside
Since we arrived at the late hour, we did not see many people inside the area other than few monks. One of them (the monk) was very friendly with us. He even allowed Anne and I to take his photo resting on the stairs of Vihara house. Since there are no one at site to capture the 3 of us, we had to take turn to pose with him and both photos are shared with this entry. We hope he might be able to see them somehow someway.

Dhammasala (silver building behind the main temple) is an open hall used for Buddhist monks to recite texts and also as a royal reception area. In below photo, Dhammasala is behind the Kantha Bopha Memorial.

According to the local website, Silver Pagoda is known for the 5329 silver tiles that cover the floor. Each tile was handcrafted and weighs about 1.125kg. The Vihara serves less as a functioning temple than a repository for cultural and religious treasures, containing over 1650 precious objects. The Emerald Buddha is the primary one, sitting on a gilded dais above all others in the temple, reported by different sources to be made of emerald or baccarat crystal. In front of the Emerald Buddha stands Buddha Maitreya (Buddha of the Future). Other objects include a Buddha relic from Sri Lanka in a small gold and silver stupa, a collection of gifts from Queen Kossomak Nearyrith, and contributions and gifts from other nobles and Royals.

The rest of the view from our quick stop and exploration are shared here. It would be however, most recommended for you to spend more times in this place should you wish to see the temple collections inside and on the outside display (within the temple gate). It's worth the visit, I must add.

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