Buddha: " Whenever you see things, just see. Whenever you listen, just listen. Whenever you know, just know."
Phra Narai Ratchanivet (Ratchanivej) Palace, Lopburi, Lopburi Province, Thailand.
Phra Narai Ratchanivet (Ratchanivej),
Sorasak Road, Thanin, Lopburi, Lopburi (formerly Lavapura or Lavo) Province, Thailand. Officially named Somdet Phra Narai National Museum (1961)
Tel / Fax: 0 3641 1458
Open: Wednesday through Sunday only for Museum (closed Monday, Tuesday and National Holidays), The park is open 7 days.
Operated by The Fine Arts Department of Culture for Thailand.
Admission charge applies on museum open days (30 Bht 2007).
We visited Phra Narai Ratchanivet, Lopburi in November 2007 as part of a self timed visit from Bangkok and found a large walled compound with two further walled compounds within, close to the town centre.
Our visit was
accidentally ill timed as we were there on a Tuesday when these inner compounds (where the museum is housed) were closed to the public although we did manage
to take some photos from the inner compound's doorways.
The 'park' area that we had access to was interesting enough in any case, with the remains of structures that were built during the reign of King Narai the
Great, and took almost an hour to tour fully, using the free 5 fold information brochure. Starting at the main entrance, following the numbered
sequence of the brochure, there is (1) what remains of a rectangular brickwork water storage tank that was fed from Ang Sub Lek, a cistern on a hill outside Lopburi, through large, hand made,
Behind the remnants of the water tank are two rows of five buildings, all that remains of 'Twelve Halls of Treasure' (2) that were used for the storage of
'official goods' and gifts, containing an armoury, timber, precious metals, ivory and spices amongst others. These brickwork buildings were designed by a
French engineer and are in the European style of the era and have pathways in between.
At the other side of the 'Twelve Halls' from the water tank there is a moated reception hall (3) that was built to accommodate visiting foreign envoys. It
must have been wonderful to stay here when the palace was in its hay day, when in 1685 the French ambassador, Chevalier de Chaumont, the first French ambassador for King Louis XIV in Siam visited. He tried without success to convert King Narai the Great to Catholicism and to conclude significant commercial
treaties with Siam. Banquets and festivities would have been held here.
A short distance away close to the (Phretracha Road) wall is the Phra Chao Hao Hall (4), a mixture of traditional Thai (Siamese) and European design. The
building is believed to have been used as King Narai's chapel, known to have housed the ancient 'Hoa' Buddha image in 1688.
Beyond a wall, to the west, half way down the outer compound, with apertures that once would have been gated, are an unequally spaced row of seven elephant
stables, because there used to be ten, (5) used to house King Narai The Great's Royal elephants, that may have been 'classed' as white elephants as well as some elephants that were owned
by some of the highest ranking noblemen of Siam at the time.
The museum area that was not accessible to us, beyond the inner walls, contains:
The Chanthara Phisan Throne Hall (6). A Thai (Siamese) style building used by King Narai and his Privy Councilor, later restored by King Rama IV and used as
part of the museum today.
Dusitsawan Thanya Mahaprasada Throne Hall (7). A protected ruin, once a splendid meeting and greeting hall used by King Narai the Great, containing a throne.
The Suthasawan Throne Hall (8). All that remains here is the huge brick plinth, a remnant of what was a European style building, the private quarters of King Narai the Great, a huge and elaborate house, reportedly with bright yellow glazed
Phiman Mongkut Pavilion (9), built during the reign of King Mongkut, of the Bangkok Dynasty, used today as a museum building.
Phra Pratiep Buildings (10). Another building from the reign of King Mongkut, used today as a 'local Thai exhibits' hall.
Two matching 'Thim Dap' buildings (11) that housed the royal guards, although complete stand empty today.
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