Wat Arun Rajwararam
, “Temple of the Dawn” is a Buddhist temple in the Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The full name of the temple is Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan. Named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn, the Wat Arun is considered one of the most well known of Thailand’s many landmarks. Drawn on a novel by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima (The Temple of Dawn-The Sea of Fertility). The temple is so named because the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. The monastery has existed for many years since the days when Ayutthaya was capital of Thailand. At the time named Wat Mokok, situated in a place called Tumbol Bangmakok. The word Bangmakok, meaning ” Village of Olive”, has since been shortened to “Makok”.
The temple was originally known as Wat Chaeng. Originally it was located in the palace grounds and during the time of Rama I it moved to the other side of the river. It was abandoned for a long period of time until Rama II, who restored the temple and extended the pagoda to 70m. The Wat enshrined the emerald Buddha image before it was transferred to Bangkok in 1785 A.D. and it is believed that King Taksin vowed to restore the Wat after passing it one dawn.
The main feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (Khmer-style tower) which are encrusted with colorful porcelain. This is interpreted as a stupa-like pagoda incrusted with colored faience The height is reported by different sources as between 66.8 m (219 ft) and 86 m (282 ft). The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prangs. The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China. The presiding Buddha image, cast in the reign of Rama II, is said to have been molded by the king himself. The ashes of King Rama II are buried in the base of the image. Construction of the tall prang and four smaller ones was started by King Rama II during 1809-1824 A.D. and completed by King Rama III (1824–1851). The towers are supported by rows of demons and monkeys. Very steep and narrow steps lead to a balcony high on the central tower. The circumference of the base of the structure is 234 meters, and the central prang is 250 foot high.
The central prang is topped with a seven-pronged trident, referred to by many sources as the “Trident of Shiva”. Around the base of the prangs are various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals. Over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan. In the Buddhist iconography, the central prang is considered to have three symbolic levels – base for Traiphum
indicating all realms of existence, middle for Tavatimsa
where all desires are gratified and top denoting Devaphum
indicating six heavens within seven realms of happiness. At the riverside are six pavilions (sala) in Chinese style. The pavilions are made of green granite and contain landing bridges.
Next to the prangs is the Ordination Hall with a Niramitr Buddha image supposedly designed by King Rama II. The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, decorated in colored ceramic and stuccowork studded in colored china. There are two demons, or temple guardian figures, in front. The murals were created during the reign of Rama V
The central prang symbolizes Mount Meru of the Indian cosmology. The satellite prangs are devoted to the wind god, Phra Phai. The demons (yaksha
) at the entranceway to the ubosot are from the Ramakien. The white figure is named Sahassa Deja
and the green one is known as Thotsakan
, the Demon R?vana from Ramayana.
This unforgettable landmark on Bangkok’s River of Kings consists of a massive elongated prang or Khmer-style tower characteristic of Thai temple architecture, surrounded by four smaller prangs. The 79 meter high tower is decorated with ceramic tiles and fragments of multi colored porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China .The porcelain mosaic fills every conceivable nook, cranny, and wall, creating a brilliantly imaginative and visually stunning monument. The statuary is also replete with mosaic adornment. The outer four corners are Prangs which hold statues of Phra Phai, the God of Wind. The entrance to the temple building is guarded by a pair of impressive mythical giants, similar to the 12 giants in the Wat Phra Kaew or Grand Palace.
The long, elongated, Khmer-style Prang or tower, and four minor towers symbolize the terrestrial representation of the thirty-three heavens. It is possible to walk a limited way up the very steep stairs of the main prang, which gives a reasonable view of the Chao Phraya river. These steep steps lead to the two terraces that form the base of the Prang. Kinnaree or half-humans, and frightening Yaksas, or demon guards support the different layers, or heavens. Pavilions on the first platform contain priceless statues of the Buddha at the most important stages of his life. On the second terrace four statues of the Hindu god Indra or Erawan, his thirty-three headed elephant, stand guard. The main Buddha image inside the Bot is believed to have been designed by King
|Even without the sacred statue, Wat Arun continued to be much revered amongst the people. Monks were allowed to return during the rule of Rama I, the first King of the Chakri dynasty, who disestablished Wat Chaeng as the royal temple when he moved the capital across the river to what is today downtown Bangkok. Later, King Rama II restored the temple to its former glory and changed its name to Wat Arun Rachatharam.During the reign of Rama III, the Prang was raised to an astonishing height of 67 meters, making it the highest one in Thailand even today. As an exponent of art and architecture, this sovereign completed the restoration of the temple structure with the adornment of small pieces of fine China glinting in the sun. The name of the temple was changed once again to Wat Arun Ratchavararam.
Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, this temple can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or by boat from Tha Tien Pier, near Wat Pho. The Tha Tien express boat pier, at the southwest corner of the Grand Palace or Wat Phra Kaew, is diagonally opposite Wat Arun and boats ply at very frequent intervals. You can get to Tha Tien on the Chao Phraya River Express boats from any other pier, or take a taxi to it. Buses that go near Tha Tien are ordinary buses 1, 25, 44, 47, 62 and 91 that stop on Maharat road. Plenty of Thonburi canal tours also take tourists to visit this artistic piece of architecture.
The temple is open to the public daily from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The Admission Fee for this legendary monument is 30 baht for foreigners, while entry is free for Thai citizens. Other tourist attractions accessible from here are Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, the National Museum, Chinatown the Ko Rattanakosin area, and the Banglamphu district.The murals date from the reign of King Rama V.