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Museums in the South

On the Hill Top: Phra Nakhon Khiri National Museum
Khao Wang - Attractions
Khao Wang (เขาวัง -อี๊ด) (Phetchaburi)

Phra Nakhon Khiri is locally known as Khao Wang (Palace Hill). The number of visitors here, in Phetchaburi province, has been among the highest in the country. One of the reasons for its attraction may be that it was once a palace consisting of many beautiful pavillions. On top of that is its location, on top of the mountain which is situated in the heart of the city of Phetchaburi. All of it makes a visit here even more exciting. The climb up the mountain can be made by walking from the front or by using the tram in the back. Either way brings one to a spectacular view of the different plantations below, especially the many plumeria trees which are normally in bloom and give off a nice fragrance in summer. The original plumeria plant was brought into the Kingdom by King Rama V.
Another adventure is to go through a large group of monkeys, living in the area; they have become a symbol of the people.

Phra Nakhon Khiri is the first palace that King Rama IV had built upcountry during the period of 1858-1859. The palace was constructed on top of Samana or Maha Sawan Mountain that consisted of three hills. The middle one is where a Ceylonese style stupa, “Phra That Chom Phet,” was built by King Rama IV, covering over the original one which contained a Buddha relic. The top of the Eastern hill is the location of Wat Phra Kaeo or Wat Phra Kaeo Noi, the palace temple that is composed of the ubosot, the red shrine "Chedi Daeng", the belfry and the round-shaped stupa “Phra Buddha Sela Chedi.” It was originally built on Si Chang Island with greenish grey marble before being dismantled into small parts for transportation purposes.

On the West hill, the palace residential area is located; there are pavillions of different sizes, each constructed for different functions. The Phetchaphum Phairot Pavillion is a blend of Western, Chinese and Thai architectural styles. The pavillion was originally a throne hall in the reign of King Rama IV but was converted into a residence hall for royal guests. (It was renovated in 1883 to be a residence of Duke Johanne Albrecht, the governor-general of Brunswick, Germany and his wife) The plan of the building is still laid out as the original with a dining room, a parlor, a tea room, bedroom and bathroom. Connecting to this pavillion are two other pavillions. First is the pavillion of Pramot Mahaisawan, the royal residence hall for Queen Thepsirindhara Borom Rachini and the second is the Wetchayan Wichian Maha Prasat Pavilion, in the style of a tetrahedron that bears five finials. It is used for housing the bronze figure of King Rama IV, shown standing under a nine-tiered umbrella, the symbol for kingship, and wearing a Scottish cap. His right hand holds a sword while the left hand a book. The pose was believed to be inspired by his Royal imagination.
Next to these buildings is a building with a Chinese style roof, called the Ratcha Dhamma Sapha Pavilion, formerly a private place for the king’s royal religious preaching during the reign of King Rama IV. It was converted to a dining room for the royal family in the reign of King Rama V.
Besides the previous pavillions, there is another building called Santhakharn Sathan pavillion which was the residence for the royal women of the family. It consisted of a living room and a bedroom. It was sometimes used as a guest residence also. Other buildings are: an observatory, a theatre and small pavillions which are presented with captions about the function of each of them.

Entrance fee for Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park is 40 Baht, by cable car 70 Baht (including museum), children 10 Baht.
Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. For more information call Tel. 032-425600

Entrance fee for Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park is 40 Baht, by cable car 70 Baht (including museum), children 10 Baht.
Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. For more information call Tel. 032-425600

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The National Museum Chaiya was the first one established in this region after many museums had already been in operation in the central part of the country. The idea of gathering and collecting regional heritage had reached the community and many artifacts had been gathered by the local people, including monks.

Due to the fact that most Thais are Buddhist, they often make merit by presenting offerings to monks. These offerings are often ancient items and became another way of gathering objects to make a cultural inheritance. Utensils for a monk’s livelihood were often made as beautifully as art pieces. With an aesthetic appreciation of these artifacts, monks had been drawn to the idea of collecting for the public heritage. Since these artifacts were products by local craftsman they will mostly reflect the local cultural identity.

The National Museum Chaiya is situated in the compound of Wat Phra Boromathat Chaiya in Surat Thani Province. It is a museum descended from the private museum of Phra Khru Sophon Chetsikaram (Iam), a previous abbot and also an earlier chief monk of the district. He started his collection from gathering all of the objects being offered to him; he integrated it with artifacts found in the area. Later, he put them on display not only for local admiration, but also to give the public an awareness and have them take pride in their local culture.

After the opening of his museum, in 1905, one of the most beautiful sculptures, that of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was found in the area of Wat Phra Boromathat Chaiya. The sculpture was categorized in the Srivijaya style, which was an art style that flourished in the southern region during the 9th centuries A.D. The style was coherent with to an architecture sited at the temple, which led to the assumption that this area must have been an important site of an earlier Srivijaya kingdom. This hypothesis widened the interest in collecting ancient objects in the area. The Fine Arts Department, as a consequence, stepped into the search for archaeological works in the area, and adopted the abbot’s private museum and integrated the collections to become the National Museum Chaiya, in 1935.

However, even after it became a museum under the Fine Arts authority, every abbot has always given his support for the growth of the museum. In 1950, Phra Khru Indhara Panyajan was the main supporter for the museum to have its own building. After the completion of the new building, the collection was moved there to show it in a better presentation. In 1956, the Fine Arts Department applied a uniform art and archaeology standard to all museums. It built a new building annexed to the old one to include the many finds that had been received from archaeological work in the region.

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