Bang Pa In Palace
The palace precinct is enclosed within a high wall, around which massive towers are positioned at intervals. In fact Bang Pa In comprises two separate palace complexes, an outer and an inner. At one time the inner was barred to all but the royal couple and male courtiers.
Bang Pa In Palace Highlights
Phra Thinang Aisawan Tippaya Pavilion
Set in the middle of a lake, the Bangkok-style Phra Thinang Aisawan Tippaya Pavilion, most delightful of all the buildings, was erected by King Chulalongkorn in 1876. Although not original, being a faithful copy of the Phra Thinang Aphonphimok Prasat Pavilion built by King Mongkut in the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the graceful edifice is nevertheless among the purest examples of Thai architecture to be seen, and for that reason has frequently served as the model for the Thai exhibition pavilion at world fairs. Constructed in the first instance entirely of wood, the floor and supports were replaced in 1920 by reinforced concrete. In the center of the pavilion stands a cast-iron, life-size statue of King Chulalongkorn by an unknown sculptor.
Vehat Chamrun Palace
The Chinese-style Vehat Chamrun Palace at the north end of the precinct was built in 1889 at the expense of wealthy Chinese merchants hoping to curry favor with King Chulalongkorn. The brightly colored roof tiles, roof ornamentation, wood carvings and most of the interior furnishings were either brought from China or made by Chinese craftsmen. Because it had glazed windows the palace was used by Chulalongkorn during periods of heavy rain. Inside, the magnificently carved furniture is particularly noteworthy, especially the sovereign's very ornate bed, King Vajiravudh's carved Chinese writing table, and the bookcase in the study containing old Chinese manuscripts from various different periods.
Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman
North of the landing-stage the Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman Hall, a mixture of Italian Renaissance and Victorian styles, was used as a royal audience chamber. Inside are a throne with a baldachin and, on the opposite wall, an oil-painting of King Chulalongkorn in his robes of state. Decorating the remaining walls are illustrations from the tales of "Inao", "Phra Aphaimani" and the "Ramakien". A covered bridge links the hall to a circular building opening onto a broad terrace from which wide stone steps lead down into the lake. All have been restored in recent years.
Statue of Queen Sumantha
Among the monuments with which King Chulalongkorn embellished the park is a memorial to his first wife Sumantha Kumaritana who, together with her three children, drowned when their boat capsized on the Menam Chao Phraya. The Queen's attendants dared not go to her aid because of a century old law which made touching a member of the royal family an offence punishable by death. Following the tragedy Chulalongkorn abolished the law; it had been first introduced by King Rama Thibodi who believed himself a reincarnation of Vishnu.
Deserving of mention are the open-air theatre, a small wooden pavilion near the Uthayan Phumi Sathian, and a prang beneath a large bodhi tree on the edge of the lake. The latter was erected by King Chulalongkorn, replacing a shrine dedicated to King Prasat Thong. Inside it stands a statue of Prasat Thong.
The tower standing on a small island between the two palaces was built by King Mongkut, a keen amateur astronomer, for use as an observatory. A stone staircase leads up to a platform from where there is a fine view of the surrounding countryside.
Uthayan Phumi Sathian Palace
Only a tall brick hexagonal Neo-Gothic tower now remains of the former Uthayan Phumi Sathian Palace, King Chulalongkorn's residence during the rainy season. The rest, built of wood, was destroyed by fire in 1938.