Did you know that the tourism sector in Thailand significantly contributes to the kingdom’s GDP? In 2015 alone, Thai received approximately 30 million visitors, which was a 20% increase from the previous year. The main attractions in Thai include archaeological sites, sandy beaches, museums, Buddhist temples, the city of Bangkok, and several World Heritage Sites.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) generally selects landmark sites on the basis of having historical, cultural, scientific, or any other form of significance and they are protected by international treaties. Internationally, there are 962 properties in the world proclaimed by UNESCO that are part of the natural and cultural heritage considered as possessing outstanding universal value by the World Heritage Committee.
Thailand is exceedingly famous for having a high number of ancient cities and historical sites from different eras in history. Some of the oldest sites date back to hundreds and thousands of years to even Neolithic times. They are of vital importance, and some of these sites have been included in UNESCO’s world heritage list.
In Thailand, these five leading heritage sites are located north and north-east of the country. They include; the Historic City of Ayutthaya, the Historic Town of Sukhothai and its Associated Historic Towns, Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, Ban Chiang Archaeological Site and the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex. Other sites have been forwarded and listed on UNESCO’s tentative list. Ideally, this means that they are to be considered and made World Heritage Sites in the future. These sites include Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan and the Great Swing, and the Architecture of HRH Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse. They are discussed below in detail.
1. Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan
The Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan refers to a Buddhist temple situated in Bangkok, Thailand. As one of ten similar temples in Bangkok, it is a royal temple and of the oldest and largest (covering 10 acres) in Bangkok. The temple’s construction began in 1782 by King Rama I and lasted for decades. It was finally completed in 1847 during the reign of King Rama III. Situated in front of this temple is a welcoming pavilion for any visiting heads of state, a memorial for King Rama III and the Mahakala Fortress.
The Wat Suthat hosts the viharn, one of the oldest era buildings still in existence which hosts the most famous image of the Buddha. Moreover, the buildings long walls display magnificent mural paintings which tell stories of the Buddha’s previous lives. Some of these extraordinary paintings also depict scenes of daily life images in the Rattanakosin era. There are also artsy, carved wooden doors at every entry which contain pictures some of which were done by the second King Rama who was a talented artist and poet.
Sometimes, the Wat Suthat is referred to as the temple of the giant swing. This is because of the massive red swing found in from of the temple known as the Sao Ching Chaa. This 20 meter high, teak wooden swing is a religious structure that was constructed at the end of the 18th century. It was used during the annual Brahmanic ceremonies.
During these ceremonies, several groups of young men competed against each other and tried to swing as high as they possibly could to grab with their teeth a parcel of gold coins which was attached to a 15-meter bamboo pole. However, there were too many fatal accidents reported from the activity, and this led to the swing ceremony being canceled.
The pillars of the Giant Swing are said to represent mountains while the swing’s circular base represents the seas and the earth.
|Phra Ubosot Wat Benchamabophit|
3. The Architecture of HRH Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse.
Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse is famously remembered for designing the crest for the European – style government ministries and his input in the design of some of the temples and schools in Bangkok, Thailand.