Emerald Buddha of Cambodia is situated on the southern end of Cambodia’s Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The Buddha is so imortant, that temple is sometimes referred to as the Emerald Temple. Once named Wat Ubosoth Ratanaram, the temple is now known as Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot, or in Khmer language Wat Preah Keo. The Silver Pagoda has a very prestigious designation as the King’s official temple. It is easily the most opulent in the country - certainly fit for a king – with five tons of shining silver layered over the main floor in the form of tiles seen by the temple’s front entryway.
Even more astonishing than the silver floor is the Emerald Buddha, a stunning statue, that tops a golden gilded temple pedestal, inside. Some say this is a 17th-century Baccarat crystal Buddha. However, the Baccarat crystal company was not formed until the 1760s. It is more likely that the Buddha was carved from jade or even emerald. Add one solid gold, life-size Buddha statue to the mix, and you’ve found one of the most lavish temple trios in the region. The latter, the life-size Buddha, is covered in more than 9000 diamonds and weighs in at an impressive 198 pounds. It was made in workshops belonging to the palace during 1906 and 1907. A stupa, miniature in size, lies in front of the gold Buddha. It holds an ancient relic; a statue of Buddha transported from Sri Lanka. On the right is yet another Buddha cast in silver and to the left, a bronze Buddha statue. Off to the very far right visitors can enjoy a visual tale of the Buddha’s existence via a collection of sold gold figurines.
Officially constructed by King Norodom in 1892, the original purpose of the Silver pagoda was to be the eternal resting place of all royal ashes after death. Decades later, the pagoda, which was made from wood, suffered extensive fire damage, and was rebuilt by King Sihanouk (for whom Sihanoukville was named) from much stronger, fire-proof material. No expense was spared the second time around, hence the silver tiling. During the volatile Khmer period there was looting throughout the Royal Palace and the pagoda suffered more damage. It has since been repaired with international assistance.
While taking in the Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace, don’t miss the extensive waterfront area, ideal for a walk and a bite to eat, as well as the nearby National Museum.