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Wat Arun Bangkok
Written by Vengatesh on June 23, 2020 Share on

Seven Things That You Never Expect On WAT Arun In Bangkok.

Wat Arun Ratchawararam, meaning the Temple of Dawn, is also known locally as Wat Chaeng. The temple named after the Indian God Aruna (God of Dawn) sits majestically on the Thonburi side (west bank) of the Chao Phraya River and is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and unforgettable landmarks of Bangkok ‘s skyline. From the east side of the river at sunset, the most spectacular view of the glittering monument can be seen as Wat Arun’s colourfully decorated spires shine radiantly over the water.

Overview

Wat Arun was envisioned in 1768 by King Taksin. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which had been taken over by the Burmese army at the time, he had arrived at this temple just as dawn had broken.

Wat Arun
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Wat Arun is probably the most stunning temple in Bangkok because of its riverside location and its dazzling design. The Grand Pagoda (or Prang in Thai) at Wat Arun, surrounded by four smaller pagodas, has the architectural features and layout of a Khmer-style pagoda. The 70-metre-high grand pagoda is beautifully adorned with tiny bits of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain, delicately painted with intricate designs. The Emerald Buddha used to be located in one of the two small buildings in front of the Grand Pagoda before it was moved to Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace. Sculptures of Chinese soldiers and animals decorate the base of the great pagoda.

Visitors are invited to climb up to the centre of the Grand Pagoda, and those who do are rewarded with a spectacular view of the flowing Chao Phraya River below, as well as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho on the opposite side of the river.

History of Wat Arun

Night Time, Wat Arun
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

The Temple was built in the Ayutthaya period. Previously referred to as Wat Makok and Wat Chaeng, it was made famous by General Taksin. The new name was given when he came across the temple at dawn, along with his fleet, to battle the Burmese invaders. He later became king and decided to make it part of his royal palace in Thonburi, the capital of the country at that time.

Wat Arun housed the highly revered Emerald Buddha for a short time until King Rama I brought it to Wat Phra Kaew, just across the river, and it was at this time that the capital was moved from Thonburi to Bangkok.

Khmer a la mode is the prang or tower that sits at the core of the temple. Much of the temple is also a reflection of Chinese architecture. The prang is about 82 meters high, but it hasn’t always risen as high above the river as it does today. The construction of the Prang began during the reign of King Rama II. He did not manage to measure long enough to find it completed, but King Rama III finished the structure to see because it is today. At first, it was just a few meters tall.

Wat Arun is involved in the Royal Barge Procession, as the temple is where the King will travel by the river to give new robes to the monks at the end of the Buddhist Lenten era.

Within the Wat Arun Ordination Hall, where the walls are decorated with many intricate murals, you can see the golden Niramitr Buddha image.

Wat Arun is the architectural representation of Mount Meru, the centre of the world of Buddhist cosmology. The location of the outlying pagodas, with their guardian images facing in four directions, and the wide pagoda in the centre emphasizes the significance of the temple.

Other things to see at Wat Arun:

Inside Wat Arun
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
  • There are four statues of the Hindu god Indra above the three-headed elephant Erawan on the second terrace.
  • There are six Chinese-style pavilions on the riverside, which contain landing bridges where the Royal Barge Procession arrives.
  • Next to the pagodas is the Ordination Hall with the Niramit Buddha image, which is said to have been designed by King Rama II. King Rama II made the face of the Buddha image out of wood and then covered the design in gold leaf.
  • Wat Arun has the most beautiful bouldering stone and tower in Thailand. This stone can be seen around the Wat Arun Ordination Hall. The boundary stone was made entirely of marble.
  • Inside the Ordination Hall, mural paintings tell the story of Buddha’s life before he became Lord Buddha.

Things you should know when visiting Wat Arun:

Buddha Statue at Wat Arun
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
  • Respectful clothing is required. Wat Arun is a functioning Thai Buddhist temple, and as such the administration insists that visitors dress in a respectful manner. This means that men must wear long trousers and short-sleeved shirts or long-sleeved shirts (no tank tops or sleeveless shirts). Women should wear skirts or trousers that reach at least to the knee, and should also not wear a top that exposes bare shoulders.
  • Visitors are permitted to take pictures in every region of the complex.
  • The steps leading up to the main pagoda at Wat Arun are quite steep and caution should be taken when ascending and descending.
  • At the very top of the main pagoda is the crown of the King, placed there by King Rama III.
  • Wat Arun is King Rama II’s private temple, as some of his ashes are kept under the Buddha’s main image in the Ordination Chamber.
  • Wat Arun can be visited at any time of the day, and entrance fees are about 50Thb.

Travel:

Wat Arun is often easily accessed through the Chao Phraya River, and ferries travel across the river towards the Maharaj pier. For foreigners, the temple charges admission of fifty baht (as of September 2019). During Kathina, the king travels to Wat Arun during a procession of royal barges to present new robes to the monks there.

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