The 40 temples that define Thai history

The 40 temples that define Thai history

The publisher of a new book showcasing the country's most notable wats shares some of its Bangkok highlights with CNNGo

Buddhist Temples of ThailandPublished by Marshall Cavendish, "Buddhist Temples of Thailand" is available in Thai bookstores now. A new book focusing on Thailand’s most notable temples hit store shelves recently, titled “Buddhist Temples of Thailand: A Visual Journey Through Thailand's 40 Most Historic Wats”. The book explores the Buddhist temple's historical position in Thai culture and the dynamic role it continues to play in everyday life.

The kingdom's best-known and rare temples, such as Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok and Wat Phumin in Nan, are highlighted in the book's 200 commissioned photographs.

“One reason many of us are hooked on temple-hopping in Thailand no doubt springs from the fact that the monuments are simply so accessible," says author Joe Cummings in the book's forward. "Like your neighborhood 7-eleven, wats aren’t closed on Sundays, or Saturdays or full moon days. You don’t have to be Buddhist to enter, and in even the strictest religious settings they’re open to all, regardless of race, nationality, gender or social class." 

Travel writing legend Cummings selected 40 temples from the more than 31,000 across the country for their unique architecture, stunning murals, revered Buddha images and historical significance. Photography is by Dan White, an experienced Bangkok-based magazine and features photojournalist. 

This is the first book to cover the whole country’s temples and feature commissioned photography. It is available at Asia Books, Kinokuniya, B2S now and will be on Amazon from June. Check out some of the photos taken in Bangkok, below:

Fortune telling is a popular pastime at some temples.A "Ngaan watt" (temple fair) at Wat Indrawiharn, Bangkok. Temple fairs offer entertainment and recreation to temple devotees, while raising funds for the monastery.Monks at Wat Intharawihan create "am moon" (holy water) by linking "as sin" (blessed string) between themselves, the wat, the attendants, and a vat of water into which candlewax is dripped.Wat Suan Phlu demonstrates the juxtaposition of traditional Buddhist architecture set against one of the icons of Bangkok's building boom in the 1980s and 1990s.The gilded stupa atop Phu Khao Tong, the Golden Mount.Monks melt pellets to be forged into bronze votive Buddha images at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. When ready the images will be placed inside the great stupa.This mural in the bot at Wat Arun depicts court attendants resting inside the walls of Ko Rattanakosin, while a royal procession takes place outside.A monk reaffirms his monastic precepts before an elder monk at Wat Arun, a ritual performed fortnightly.The wihan's doors at Wat Sutat were carved and painted by several artisans, including King Rama II himself.The world famous 46-metre long reclining Buddha at Wat Phra Chetuphon, better known as Wat Pho.Wat Phra Chetuphon shows how stupas in the Rattanakosin era were heavily decorated with fragments of Chinese porcelain.A cloister and wihan at Wat Phra Chetuphon, Bangkok's oldest Buddhist monastery.The bot at Wat Dusitaram, surrounded by ordination boundary markers and displaying an unusual lateral veranda