King Rama I had the Temple of the Emerald Buddha constructed to install the Emerald Buddha which he had taken from Vientiane in Laos. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is also called Wat Phra Kaew in Thai language. The construction of the temple took two years and the famous statue was moved from the Thonburi capital into the temple in 1784.
The world famous Emerald Buddha is carved from a large piece of green jade. The Emerald Buddha is 66 cms in height from the base to the head and the lap is 48.3 cms wide. The Emerald Buddha is in a seated position with the right leg resting on the left one. However, there is no evidence to prove the sculptor or the origination of the statue. The Emerald Buddha first appeared in 15th century in Chiang Rai and based on its style it seems to be from the Chiang Saen period.
It is said that lightening struck the pagoda of a temple in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand and a Buddha image covered with stucco was found inside the temple. The statue was left with the abbot of the temple who removed the stucco and found the Emerald Buddha under it.
At that time, Chiang Rai was ruled by the king of Chiang Mai. When the king passed away in 1551, his grandson became the king and took the Emerald Buddha to Laos. Prince Chiachettha stayed in Chiang Mai for year and then decided to return to Laos to succeed his father as the king.
In 1778 General Chakri, who later became King Rama I, captured Vientiane and brought the Emerald Buddha back to Thailand. Once he made Bangkok his capital, King Rama I installed the Emerald Buddha in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where the Emerald Buddha has remained ever since.
King Rama I had two robes made for the Emerald Buddha. One robe was draped on the statue in summer and the other in the monsoon season. Later, King Rama III added another robe for the winter. Even in the present days, the three robes are solemnly changed at the start of each season by the King of Thailand.