In memory of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajnagarinda, an exhibition of her life has been set up at the site of the crematorium (Phra Meru) at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. The crematorium building is probably one of the most picturesque buildings in Bangkok built during this century. Though surprisingly, it is only a temporary building and it will soon be dismantled. If you are in Bangkok now, you have a unique opportunity to see the place where the cremation took place and learn a bit more about the background to the ceremony. The exhibition will run from now until 30th November 2008. Expect big crowds every day as many Thai people are interested to see this exquisite site. The following information is from the official website at www.princessgalyani.com. The pictures I took myself during my visit to Sanam Luang yesterday.
The royal crematorium for Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana is built in the form of a religious structure with a wooden top, facing the west. It is a crematorium in the shape of a four-sided castle, with modified corners, decorated at the top with a seven-tiered white umbrella of state. The structure measures 39 meters from the base to the top of the royal umbrella, 31.80 meters in width, and 39.80 meters in length, built of wood, with an inner steel structure, decorated in patterns with a special paper plated with metal and glazed in gold.
The base is in two levels, equipped with stairs on four sides. The first level, known as the undulating base, is decorated with the figures of heavenly beings in a kneeling position, holding Bangsaek (ceremonial fans made from cloth, leaf-shaped and embroidered with gold, with a handle) in their hands. Lamps are in the middle, decorated along the backrest of the undulating base. Inside are figures of heavenly beings standing and holding royal paraphernalia. The second level, called the crematorium base, is in a lion’s leg shape, with stairs leading up from the first level from all four directions.
At the center of the large central hall is the pyre for the setting up of the royal urn to be cremated. To the north of the pyre is the rail jutting out of the balcony as an inclined bridge for the moving of the royal urn from the Golden Palanquin with Three Poles into the crematorium. The crematorium is decorated with special paper on the inside and outside, with gold as the main tone, and supplemented by varied soft tones, befitting the tenderness and grace seen in the traits and behavior of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra.
Entry to the crematorium site is free. It is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Don’t forget to pick up a free brochure with a map and information of the buildings. If you wish to enter the crematorium or the building where the Royal Family made merit, you can expect to wait in queues for up to two hours or more. However, there are no queues to walk around the gardens and take pictures much the same as I have done here. There is parking at Sanam Luang but you are advised to take public transport. Sanam Luang is often used as a site for royal cremations. Tomorrow I will post some old black and white pictures at www.thai-blogs.com of the cremation ceremony of King Rama VIII.