Wat Arun

The striking Temple of Dawn, named after the Indian god of dawn, Aruna, appears in all the tourist brochures and is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phray River. The present wat was built on the site of 17th century Wat Jang, which served as the palace and royal temple of King Taksin when Thonburi was the Thai capital; hence, it was the last home of the Emerald Buddha before Rama I brought it across the river to Wat Phra Kaew.

The 82m prang (Khmer-style tower) was constructed during the first half of the 19th century by Rama II and Rama III. The unique design elongates the typical Khmer prang into a distinctly Thai shape. Its brick core has a plaster covering embedded with a mosaic of broken, multihued Chinese porcelain, a common temple ornamentation in the early Ratanakosin period when Chinese ships calling at Bangkok used tonnes of old porcelain as ballast. Steep staris reach a lookout point about halfway up the prang from where there are fine views of Thonburi and the river. During certain festivals, hundreds of lights illuminate the outline of the prang at night.

Also worth a look is the interior of the bot. The main Buddha image is said to have been designed by Rama II himself. The murals date to the reign of Rama V;particularly impressive is one that depicts Prince Siddhartha encountering examples of birth, old age, sickness and death outside his palace walls, and experience that led him to abandon the worldly life. The ashes of Rama II are interred in the base of the bot's presiding Buddha image.

The temple looks more impressive from the river than it does up close, though the peaceful wat grounds make a very nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Between the prang and the ferry pier is a huge sacred banyan tree.

Wat Arun is open daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm; admission is 20B. To reach Wat Arun from the Bangkok side, catch a cross river ferry from Tha Tien at Th Thai wang. Crossings are frequent and cost only 3B.


At July 5, 2007 at 12:37 AM , Anonymous Rodrigo said...

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