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Golden Buddha

The Golden Buddha also known in Thai as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan is one of Thailand’s most impressive attractions. The immense statue is situated in the Wat Traimit Temple in Bangkok. It is renowned as the largest solid gold statue in the world coming in at a whopping 5,500 kilograms.

While the exact origins of the Golden Buddha aren’t precisely known, historians have placed its style in the Sukhothai Dynasty somewhere between the 13th and 14th dynasty. According to historians the Sukhotai Dynasty art was heavily influenced by Indian culture and considering that in that time frame most Buddha figures were produced in India and transported to various parts of the Asian continent, it is possible that the Golden Buddha might have actually been produced in present day India.

The story of the Golden Buddha gets quite interesting around the time of the Burmese invasion of 1767. To protect it from being stolen, vandalized or damaged the statue was plastered over in a thick layer of stucco with chunks of colored glass set between it. Even though the Burmese invasion basically destroyed the Ayutthaya kingdom the Golden Buddha remained untouched among the ruins as it did not elicit much interest from the looters.

The statue has since been moved around the country arriving in Bangkok in 1801 after King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke also known as Rama I ordered that all Buddha images and statues from abandoned temples across Thailand should be brought to the capital. By the time of King Rama III the statue was placed in the Temple of Wat Chotanaram in Bangkok. When the temple slowly began to fall apart the still stucco covered Golden Buddha was moved to its current location of Wat Traimit a modest temple that barely provided a roof for the immense statue.

The true nature of the Golden Buddha was discovered nearly 200 years after it was stuccoed. In 1955 when, after trying to move the apparently banal statue to a better location, an accident happened and it collapsed breaking a piece of the centuries old stucco and revealing the golden statue beneath. Since then the Golden Buddha was carefully cleaned with both the Golden Statue and its former protective shell being currently exposed. After close inspection, it was revealed that the statue is made of 9 parts that tie together flawlessly. The stucco apparently also contained a key that allowed the statue’s 9 pieces to be broken off and transported much easier.