Wat Arun on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is one of Bangkok’s world-famous landmarks and the most impressive sight on the river. The temple was built even before Bangkok became Siam’s capital. It was already present in the Ayutthaya era, according to a French map of Thonburi during the reign of King Narai.
When King Taksin established the new capital of Thon Buri on the left bank of the Chao Phraya, the temple was assimilated into it. He also renamed it from Wat Makok to Wat Chaeng. Soon the capital was moved to the other bank of the river at the beginning of the Rattanakosin period, but Wat Chaeng remained an important temple. King Rama II heightened the central prang (pagoda) of the temple, which became its most prominent feature reaching an impressive 66.8 meters. Later, King Rama IV granted its new name: Wat Arun Ratchavararam, or the Temple of Dawn, as it is known today.
Ubosot: this is an outstanding example of Rama II-period architecture in late Ayutthaya style. It has a two-tiered roof with glazed ceramics and pediments decorated with wooden carvings depicting Warunthep. The interior murals were painted during thee Third and Fifth Reigns. Pillar finials are decorated with gold leaves and colored glass. Phra Phutthathammitrararatchalokthatdilok, the principal Buddha image in the Subduing Mara (demon) posture, was cast in the reign of King Rama II and contains royal relics.
Prang: This brick stupa is decorated with millions of broken glass and Chinaware fragments arranged in flower and leaf designs and other Thai patterns. The top is gilded and adorned with the royal crown. King Rama III ordered the crown to be placed there, as a symbol of his intent that his brother, the monk Prince Mongkut should follow him on the throne.
Phra Rabiengkote: this corridor is in place of the kampaeng kaeo found in most other temples. It has a tiled roof with doors opening onto four directions. Inside are 120 Buddha images in the Subduing Mara posture.
Mondop of the Buddha’s Footprint: A chapel surmounted by a spire, it stands between the ubosot and the wihan. It was built during the Third Reign, and houses a copy of the footprint of the Buddha carved in Kwatong stone and decorated with colorful porcelain.
Ogre Statutes: Guarding at the gate are two yaksha (ogres). The white one is Sahassadecha and its green partner (supposedly) is Tosakan, the villain from the Ramakien (though in the story he is black, with multiple heads and arms).
THINGS TO KNOW:
Address: 34 Arun Amarin Road
Tel: 0 2465 5640
To get there: Bus routes 19, 57, 83
take a cross-river ferry from Tha Tien on Thai wang Road, which is near Wat Pho (see map below).
Open: 07.30-17.30 daily
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Wat Pho, National Museum ,Museum Siam
A. Tha Thien
B. Tha Chang
C. Tha Prannok
D. Tha Maharat
E. Tha Bangkok Noi