Approximately 60 kilometers north of Bangkok, near the ancient capital city of Ayutthaya, lies Bang Pa In, the summer palace of the King of Thailand. Nestled on the banks of the Chao Praya River, the original palace complex dates back to the 17th century and the reign of King Prasat Thong, although many of the buildings you see today were built during the palace's revival under Rama IV (King Mongkut) during the latter part of the 19th century. When you first enter the magnificent grounds of Bang Pa In you will be greeted by beautifully rendered gardens set around a vast ornamental pond.
The main path will first take you through the Outer Palace grounds, past Ho Hem Monthian Thewarat (The Golden Palace of the God King). Built in the shade of a Banyan tree, this small stone shrine was constructed in 1879 in the form of a Khmer-style prang (a residence of a king or god with a shape reminiscent of an ear of corn). Dedicated to King Prasat Thong, the shrine houses a small alter and the image of a deity.
Standing on the opposite shores of the ornamental pond is Saphakhan Ratchaprayun (The Assembly Hall for Royal Relatives). This colonial-style two-story building was built in 1879 for use by King Chulalongkorn's brothers. The building is now home to a small exhibition detailing the history of the palace complex.
From here you will also be able to see a truly wonderful Thai-style building that sits on an island in the center of the lake. Glistening in sumptuous gold, Phra Thinang (Royal residence) Aisawan Thiphya-Art (The Divine Seat of Personal Freedom) is considered to be the finest example of a Thai pavilion (sala Thai) and has been designated a national symbol. The pavilion houses a statue of Rama V (King Chulalongkorn).
Many of the destinations in Central Thailand is dense green jungle with spots of civilization here and there to make things interesting. Click here to view a list of Articles about Destinations in Central Thailand.
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