Mrigadayavan Palace, PhetchaburiPhetchaburi is 123 km from Bangkok. It is an excellent choice for those who look for a place of recreation within a short distance. Apart from its attractive natural beauty, especially that found in Kaeng Krachan National Park, it boasts three royal palaces -- Phra Nakhon Khiri, Ramrajnives and Mrigadayavan. In this article, I will deal only with Mrigadayavan which comprises three charming beachside groups of wooden pavilions used as a summer palace by King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh, 1910-1925).
One fine day under a clear azure sky I joined a press tour organized by TAT to Mrigadayavan Palace in Phetchaburi Province. Once the palace appeared in my sight, I suddenly realized the meaning of an intrinsic relaxation. This is due to the wisdom of the architects, including King Rama VI himself, who designed the palace to be comfy, cosy and elegant. While visual observation is a real feast for the eyes, getting to know the background of the palace will add more appreciation to your visit.
Mrigadayavan Palace is located on Bang Kra Beach in Cha-am County. It was constructed in 1923 under King Rama VI's command to be his summer palace. The palace was built from materials from the dismantled buildings of the old residence at the nearby Chao Samran Beach. The atmosphere is cool with a verdant wood and there is an ample supply of fresh water. Transportation is convenient as a train station is not far away.
Mrigadayavan was known as the palace of love and hope because when Queen Indrasakdi Sachi was pregnant, King Vajiravudh was extremely hopeful in anticipation of an heir. The king took great care of her throughout her pregnancy. Regrettably, the queen miscarried. King Vajiravudh finally got a daughter, Princess Bejaratana, born to Phra Nang Chao Suvadhana just one day before he passed away.
Features of the Palace
The palace was initially designed by King Vajiravudh himself. And the king appointed an Italian architect, Ercole Manfredi, who worked in the Civil Works Department, to put the finishing touches to the design. Its architectural style is western which was common for palaces constructed at that time because Thailand had just started its modernization under King Rama V (1868-1910).
High ceilings and fretwork on all walls facilitated good ventilation and made the most of sea breeze. Building the entire construction on stilts ensured that the compound could be easily kept clean. Ants were controlled by niches for water around each concrete pillar and along the walls connecting to the ground. This is a good example of using a simple and non-chemical method to control these annoying creatures. There is a total number of 1,080 concrete pillars.
Mrigadayavan Palace consists of 16 golden teak buildings which are divided into 3 groups. All are linked together throughout the palace by verandas on stilts. Details of each group of buildings are as follows:
1. Samoson Sevakamataya Group of Buildings
This group of buildings is part of the front court where official business was dealt with. Both men and women worked together there. It consists of a pavilion-like theatre, an audience hall, an office for the Royal Aide-de-Camp General and a room for night duty chamberlains.
Looking around, seeing the delicate fretwork and other decorations of the palace, I saluted the craftsmanship of the artisans whose dedication was put together to create the palace's glory.
2. Bisansagara Group of Buildings
This group of buildings was the king's personal residence. It consists of a Royal Suite which has an office, a bedroom, a dressing room, and a bathroom. Inside the bedroom, there stands a four-post bed with a white canopy. The office, in which King Rama VI loved to sit and compose his poetical works at night, now accommodates only a desk and chair once used by the king. Nearby this group of buildings are lodges for royal pages, next to which is a royal kitchen.
From this group of buildings, at the end of the verandas on stilts, I saw a beach pavilion whose roof supports a cross-like post. The post was not intended as a symbol of any religion. Instead, it was used as an indicator of the king's activities. That is, when the yellow lantern was on, it meant that the king would be ready to grant an audience. And when the green lantern was shown, it was known that the king was not in residence.
3. Samudabiman Group of Buildings
The Samudabiman group of buildings constitutes the inner court of the palace where men except the king were forbidden to enter. It served as the residence for HM Queen Indrasakdi Sachi. In the same cluster are buildings for her sister and her entourage, a dining pavilion and a beach pavilion. King Vajiravudh usually had his Thai-style lunch at the dining pavilion in the inner court.
The palace had been neglected since King Rama VI passed away in 1925. It was not until 1965 that King Bhumibol, the present king, ordered the palace to be renovated.
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