Reamker Galleries and the Emerald Buddha
In the grounds of the Royal Palace is a smaller complex in which stands the Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda is also known as Wat Preah Keo or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Within this complex, as well as the Silver Pagoda, you will find a library, royal stupas, royal shrines, a scale model of Angkor Wat, monuments and a large variety of potted shrubs and tropical plants.
Entering this complex, one finds a gallery of beautiful frescoes adorning the inner walls. The frescoes are scenes from the Reamker, which is the Khmer version of the Indian Sankrit’s Ramayana epic. The Ramayana is the conversion of Hindu ideas to Buddhist themes, and explores human values depicting the balance of good and evil in the world.
Unfortunately, many of these beautiful frescoes have become weather damaged over the years and are in need of restoration. Restoration would be a huge job, as the galleries of the Reamker frescoes cover the four inner walls of the complex; the frescoes are very detailed in their story design.
The Silver Pagoda – over 5,000 solid silver tiles
The Silver Pagoda is so named originally because of its floor, inlaid with over 5,000 solid silver handcrafted tiles, each weighing 1.125kgs. There are only a portion of the tiles visible today as most of the floor is covered in carpet. However, you may still enjoy the feeling of silver tiles under your feet in this small area! Very cool.
The Silver Pagoda also contains a large collection of sacred Buddhist statues and relics, the most renowned being the Emerald Buddha. In all there are over 1650 precious objects held within the Silver Pagoda. Don’t you just love the way the design of the windows and doors reflect the central spires of the temples?
The Emerald Buddha of Cambodia
Housed in the Silver Pagoda (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha), is the revered Emerald Buddha of Cambodia, so called because of its color. Opinions vary as to whether the Emerald Buddha is carved from Emerald, Jade or Baccarat Crystal. The Emerald Buddha is seated on a gilded platform, higher than anything else in this room, and although not so large in itself, it commands attention due to the beauty and clarity of the green crystal or stone from which it is made. A ray of sunlight coming from a high spot in the temple shines through the green crystal and highlights the Emerald Buddha. It is an inspiring sacred object in its simplistic beauty.
The other stunning Buddhist statue within the Silver Pagoda is a golden life-sized Maitreya Buddha sparkling with 9,584 diamonds! This diamond encrusted, gold statue was commissioned by King Sisowath. Beautiful!!
Viewed from the entrance door of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the Equestrian Statue of King Norodom (r.1834-1904). The statue was set in place in 1892. King Norodom is dressed in full Napoleon III attire as a complement to his good friend Napoleon III of France.
Chedi or Royal Stupas
There are also a number of Chedi or Stupas with very detailed and intricate designs standing within the grounds of the Silver Pagoda or Emerald Buddha complex. These Stupas hold the ashes of former Kings, Queens and members of the Royal family.
Pavilion of Napoleon III – Royal Palace
Outside once more into the main complex, I was disappointed to see that the French designed Pavilion of Napoleon III was covered in hording and not open to the public because of renovations. It has a very interesting history being sent as a gift to King Norodom by Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon III. Originally the Pavilion was built in 1869 in Egypt for Empress Eugenie, and is entirely constructed of iron. In 1876 the Pavilion was dismantled, piece by piece and shipped to King Norodom as a gift. It was then reassembled in the grounds of the Royal Palace. The Pavilion now houses Royal memorabilia and photographic exhibitions.
The Buddha Tree
Our tour continued through the grounds of the Royal Palace and we came upon the Buddha Tree. A Buddhist shrine sits under a strange but beautiful tree bearing the name tag shorea robusta roxb. This fascinating tree has exotic and richly colored deep pink flowers growing directly from the tree trunk on long thin stems. The only other place of have seen this fascinating tree before was in Kerala during my Wendy Wu Tour of India.
Nearby is a small stall which sells postcards of the Royal Palace complex, with views of the interior of the Throne Hall, Silver Pagoda and Emerald Buddha, areas where no photos are allowed to be taken. Postcards are all very reasonably priced at $3 per set and $12 for a book, so don’t miss out as they are not sold anywhere else (or at least we never came across them again on our tour).
Behind this stall is a small pavilion with a display of silver and gold elephants which have been presented to the Royal Family as gifts. Opposite is the Elephant Pavilion which gives a history of the relationship and importance of elephants in Khmer culture. Next to it is an area where the Royal Elephants were kept. Note the dear little baby elephant! The Asian elephants are much smaller than their African counterparts, and are on the endangered species list. Later on in this tour, we saw these beautiful creatures live at one of the ancient temples.
Leaving the complex you will notice a number of Buddhist statues beside the pathway with their gentle smile. Our visit to the Royal Palace complex and the Silver Pagoda, which enshrines the Emerald Buddha, was both a fascinating and very educational experience in the culture of Cambodia.
Next: National Museum of Cambodia……
- Royal Palace Throne Hall Phnom Penh
- Cambodia 2011 Phnom Penh city
- Snapshot of Cambodia Kampuchea
- Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army}challenges and discoveries
- Terracotta Army|Emperor Qin
- Romantic Road attractions Germany
- Romantic Road Frankfurt Germany
- Bavaria Germany Wurzburg – along the Romantic Road