Hidden Away from all for about 650 years was this 5-ton solid gold Buddha worth today at least $225 Million USD
The golden Buddha at Wat Traimit in west Bangkok is the largest gold Buddha statue in the world. Weighing 5-tons, it measures 12 feet 5 inches in diameter and has a height of 15 feet 9 inches from the base to the crown. It is an amazing statue to see, and it is even more amazing that this Buddha statue was hidden in plain sight to everyone in the world from the early 1300’s and was totally forgotten about until it was “re-discovered” in the 1950’s.
The Golden Buddha is open to the public for respectful viewing, and it is not guarded by an army of soldiers with automatic weapons, just a wonderful army of Thai monks in their saffron robes. It is another magical place in Thailand.
This temple is located at the junction of Traimit, Yaowarat and Charoen Krung Roads. Just across from the main entrance of Wat Traimit is the Odeon circle and the archway to Chinatown Bangkok.
Originally the Golden Buddha sat in in the ancient Siam capital city of Ayutthaya and was guarded by a loyal group of monks, whose value towards the statue transcended the value of money. It was probably made in the 12th or 13th century. In the 14th century and before, Siam was having constant wars with neighboring Burma, and Burmese armies would regularly come into Siam, destroyed cities and massacred thousands while plundering whatever was of value and returning it to their homeland. Word got out that the Burmese Army was headed to the Capital City. The monks guarding the Golden Buddha covered the entire statue in about 8 to 12 inches of clay to avoid it’s seizure by the Burmese, and the deception worked. Unfortunately, the monks guarding the Buddha were all slaughtered by the invaders, but the statue was passed over, and in the ruins of the once great city this large clay Buddha statue was forgotten over time.
In 1781, the capital city of Siam was established in the city of Krung Thep — “city of Angels” — which Westerners called (and still call) Bangkok, which was probably a Western morphing of the Thai word Bang, which means village, and Ko, which means island, since originally the area was dotted with many small marshy islands along the Chao Phraya River where the city sits. Or it could have been named Bangkok because of the western morphing of the words Bang, village, mixed with the Makok, a plant that grew in the area with olive-like fruit. Today, Westerners continue calling the city Bangkok and Thai people call it Krung Thep, so it is a city with two names.
As the newer city was developed into a Capital city, many of the relics of old Ayutthaya were brought down to Kung Thep by King Rama IV (who reigned from 1825-1851). The very large clay Buddha with the hidden history and plain covering was brought down to be installed in the Wat Phraya Krai on Charoen Krung Road, Yannawa district near the Taksin Bridge. The clay covering of the statue was covered in laquer.
In 1931, the old Bangkok temple Wat Phraya Krai with the large clay Buddha was abandoned, and on May 25, 1955, all of the remaining items in the old temple had to be removed, and monks began to transport the two Buddha statues left there to the newer temple, Wat Traimit. The new owner of the old temple, the East Asiatic Company needed the premises vacated completely, as a new highway was being constructed that would run exactly over the location of the old temple.
The large and heavy clay Buddha was hoisted by ropes and pulleys and a crane to begin transport, but the Buddha was much heavier than estimated earlier. The crane lifted the Buddha, but it appeared that the statue would fall and break, so the senior monk signaled to the crane operator to lower the statue back onto its footing. When setting down the Buddha, to the horror of all present, the rope gave way a little and part of the lacquered clay on the outside of the Buddha shattered and cracked. They agreed that the following day another larger crane would have to be put to the job, and the monks covered the clay Buddha statue in water proof tarps, as there was a storm brewing over Bangkok (as there often is) and they needed to protect the statue over the night. All seemed well protected, and the moving team of workers and monks retired for the evening secure that the statue was protected until the next morning. In the middle of the night, however, the senior monk woke up and decided to go check on the status of the clay statue, to make sure it remained dry. With flashlight in hand, he carefully inspected the condition of the Buddha, and his light caught a glimmer of something through the cracks in the clay. He went back to his quarters and grabbed a chisel and a hammer to examine the situation more closely, to widen the cracks larger, and could not believe his eyes of what he saw. The monk immediately awoke all of the other monks, and got them all with chisel and hammer, and by lantern light worked throughout the night to clean off the entire outer coating of the Buddha to reveal the magnificent beauty of the solid gold statue, something no one had seen for over 600 years!
When the moving crew arrived later that morning to complete the job of moving the Buddha to its new location, there was much confusion and excitement. Where had the
clay Buddha gone? From where had the Golden Buddha come? The monks explained. Historians were called and research was begun to discover the origin of the Golden Buddha.
The Golden Buddha is now placed in the second story of a separate building in Wat Traimit. Shattered pieces of plastic lacquer are on display in a glass showcase to the left of the Golden Buddha, along with the senior monk’s flashlight, chisel, the old pulleys and part of the rope used in the transport of the hidden Gold Buddha.