Bangkok Post - - HEAVENLY PLACE -

The royal mau­soleum at Wat Ratchabophit (the mau­soleum, si­t­u­ated out­side a monastery zone in the tem­ple com­pound, lies along its wall ad­ja­cent to At­sadang Road near Klong Khu Muang Deum.) In the Ayut­thaya pe­riod, af­ter the cre­ma­tion of late Kings or other royal fam­ily mem­bers, the cre­mated bones were kept at Thay Jaranam — a stupa also en­shrin­ing Bud­dha stat­ues si­t­u­ated be­hind the ubosot, or or­di­na­tion hall — in Wat Phra Sri San­phet. The bones of other royal fam­i­lies who hold lower ranks are con­served at other stupa in this tem­ple as well. As for the royal ashes of the late Kings, Queens and their par­ents, they were cast into the river. The ashes were col­lected and put in a white bag which was placed on a pedestal tray. In an­cient times, three small lumps of la­t­erite lac­quered with gold, cop­per al­loy and sil­ver leaves were placed in the bag along with ashes to weigh it down into the river. As time has gone by, the process changed. Af­ter the bag with royal ashes was sealed, a cer­e­mony was held where a pro­ces­sion would take the ashes from the Phra Meru Mas, or royal cre­ma­to­rium, to the royal barge. In the Ayut­thaya era, the royal ashes were floated in the river at Wat Phut­thai­sawan or Wat Chai­wattha­naram, both river­front tem­ples in Ayut­thaya province. Later in the Rat­tanakosin pe­riod, the royal ashes were re­leased at Wat Pathum Khongkha or Wat Yan­nawa ow­ing to an­cient tra­di­tional be­lief and the tem­ples’ aus­pi­cious names, ac­cord­ing to the Fine Arts Depart­ment. The en­shrine­ment of royal ashes was first recorded dur­ing the royal cre­ma­tion of King Chu­la­longkorn (King Rama V) in 1911. At that time, King Va­ji­ravudh (King Rama VI) ended the prac­tice of re­leas­ing ashes into the river and kept his fa­ther’s bones at the ubosot of Wat Ben­cham­abophit. Since then, royal cre­mated relics have been en­shrined in mau­soleums or some other ap­pro­pri­ate place. A pro­ces­sion takes the royal ashes there. Nev­er­the­less, some royal fam­i­lies still re­leased their an­ces­tors’ ashes into the wa­ter though the prac­tice was not preva­lent. King Rama V, dur­ing his reign, com­mis­sioned Prince Thavi Thavalyal­abh to su­per­vise the con­struc­tion of a mau­soleum along a west­ern wall of the Wat Ratchabophit com­pound. Af­ter the prince died in 1897, Prince Ni­lawan car­ried on the mau­soleum work. In the mau­soleum com­pound, sev­eral memo­ri­als were built to store royal relics of royal con­sorts, Chao Chom Manda, and the sons and daugh­ters of King Rama V. Memo­ri­als en­shrin­ing royal cre­mated re­mains are con­structed in var­i­ous an­cient ar­chi­tec­tural styles. Struc­tures in­clud­ing chedi, phra prang and vi­hara were built in Thai, Kh­mer and Euro­pean Gothic-style ar­chi­tec­ture. The mau­soleum is also dec­o­rated with exquisite or­chards of dif­fer­ent types of plants in­clud­ing flow­ers such as frangi­pani, or leelawadee in Thai. One of the memo­ri­als, the Rangsi Vad­hana Memo­rial is the memo­rial for the Mahi­dol Fam­ily, the royal fam­ily of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Po­si­tioned in the mid­dle of the memo­rial is a large stupa plated with golden mo­saics while three other small stu­pas are painted in white. In­side the memo­rial are royal relics and royal ashes of His Royal High­ness Prince Mahi­dol of Songkla, the fa­ther of the late King Bhumibol, Princess Mother Sri­na­garindra and Her Royal High­ness Princess Galyani Vad­hana, the late King’s sis­ter. Hence, the His Majesty the late King Bhumibol’s royal ashes will be en­shrined in this memo­rial as well.

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