06 July, 2008

The Royal Palace Chatomuk Mongkul

. 06 July, 2008

The Royal Palace at Phnom Penh was the last place I visited in Cambodia on April’s vacation. It was the 18th April 2008. We visited the Royal Palace which in local language is called Preah Borom Reach Veang. The name of the palace is Chatomuk Mongkul, because it is located adjacent to the intersection of four-faced rivers “Chatomuk” including the Upper Mékong, the Lower Mékong, the Tonlé Bassak and the Tonlé Sap. Entrance fee was 25,000 Riel (local currency) or US$6.5 per person. To enter the palace, visitors must wear proper outfits.

Visitors in short pants, short skirts, tank top or the like are not allowed to enter the palace, and strictly no hat neither cap on head inside any of the pavilion within the palace complex

This palace was erected firstly in the reign of King Ponhea Yat in the year 1434, and secondly it was erected in the reign of King Norodom in 1866. This palace is the principal residence of their Majesties the King and the Queen and the royal family; it is like a small town of royal dynasties. This palace compound is 435 meters long by 421 meters wide and a high wall. The Royal Palace includes magnificent temples built in the traditional style. The whole complex wall is decorated with what is called “Seima”-shapes. Most of the buildings include magnificent sculptures are characterized by many tiered roofs and topped by towers which are symbol of prosperity. The Royal Palace is regarded as symbol of the whole nation and all the pavilions are adorned and painted yellow and white. The yellow represents Buddhism and the white represents Brahmanism . The stairway is guarded with Naga figures having many heads, and all pillars are decorated with Kinnoris and Garudas supporting the ceilings.

French pavillion

The picture was taken from the balcony of the throne hall

The Royal Palace consists of seven pavilions with different function. The Throne Hall is used for various purposes including the royal coronation ceremony ; audiences granted by His Majesty and the King on national and religious day, and the presentation of credentials by foreign envoys and formal receptions to distinguished guests both national and international. In the middle of the hall there is a throne symbolizing Phnom Penh as a hill in the center of continents where divinities live – fitting the hall. About half of the hall floors are made of pure silver. No wonder why visitors are banned to enter certain areas in the hall. Taking a photograph of scene inside any pavilion is strongly prohibited , otherwise our camera would be grasped by the hall guard.
Ho Samran Phrum, is another pavilion which is used to keep the royal musical instruments and utensils for the use in the royal coronary procession. The first floor was the waiting room in which their Majesty could take a rest before mounting the elephant that had awaited them in front of this pavilion. Now this pavilion is used as His Majesty King Sihanouk’s museum.

The throne hall

Erna - in front of the throne temple

Another pavilion which amazed me was the Emerald pagoda. A lot of artistic objects are exhibited there. Some of them are Emerald Buddha which is made of emerald. The Buddha sits on a gold throne and wears a gold sash set with diamonds across his both shoulders. The Standing Buddha which was called “Preah Chin Reangsei Reachika Norodom” in the reign of King Sisowath in 1904, is the statue including the pedestal and parasol made of 90kg of gold, and adorned with 2,086 diamonds, rubies and emeralds. There was also marble Buddha stands in a gesture of walking across a river. There were many more Buddha’s statues which were set with diamonds; some were made of gold and some were made of bronze. There were many more magnificent artistic objects on exhibition made of gold, silver, copper, copper alloy, marble, glass and ivory.

Elly with Ben and Naya

The pictures decorated a whole corridor walls of the complex

Walking towards the exit door, we stopped by a room which walls were occupied by many pictures and photographs of Khmer’s traditional costumes , cultural ceremony and other historical pictures of Khmer. Adjacent to this was a museum where we could see the miniature of imagery of the royal coronation procession of his majesty Norodom Sihamoni, the new King of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Before leaving the Royal Palace we wrote briefly about our impression over the royal palace in the guest book. Last but not least, I found people of Cambodia and Vietnamese are very kind and friendly. I hope one day I will revisit Phnom Penh and HCMC.


Translator Dave said...

A dream vacation. Someday maybe I can follow in the footsteps of you and so many others.

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