Home > Bangkok, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Thailand, Thailand FAM > Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, Thonburi, Bangkok

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, Thonburi, Bangkok

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Thonburi, Bangkok

Also see: FAM tour of Thailand

Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or simply Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s most prominent landmark. It is located in the Thonburi region of Bangkok, which lies on the west bank of Chao Pharya River.

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Approaching Wat Arun across the Chao Pharya River, Thonburi, Bangkok

Today the Buddhist Temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Aruna, with its distinctive prang (spire), dominates the Bangkok sky line. The temple dates back to the Ayuthaya Kingdom (1351 to 1767) but the prang (spire) was added during the reign of Rama II (reign 1809 – 24).

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Wat Arun

During the Ayuthaya period the present site of Wat Arun was occupied by a small temple called Wat Makok.

In 1767 the Ayuthayas were over thrown by Taskin, also known as Taskin the Great, the only ruler of Thonburi Kingdom. Taskin made his new capital at Thonburi on the west bank of Chao Pharya River.

It is believed that Taksin vowed to restore the temple after passing it at dawn. He restored the temple and named it Wat Chaeng, and it was enshrined with the Emerald Buddha.

But Taskin reign was short, in 1782 he was over thrown by Rama I who established the Rattanakosin Kindom, which even today remains the traditional centre of power in Thailand.

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The Prang (Spire) of Wat Arun, Thonburi, Bangkog

Rama I established his capital in Rattanakosin, which was on the eastern bank of Chao Pharya River and bang opposite Thonburi. Today both Thonburi and Rattanakosin are well known tourist spots of Bangkok.

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Approaching the Prang of Wat Arun

In 1785 the Emerald Buddha was transferred to the new capital. It was housed in the temple of Wat Phra Kaew, which is part of the Grand Palace of Bangkok.

So the temple located at the grounds of the royal palace of Taskin was abandoned for a long period. It was only during the reign of Rama II (reign 1809 – 24) the temple got a new lease of life.

It was renamed Wat Arun and the main prang (spire) was added. Further extension continued during the reign of his successor Rama III (reign: 1824–1851).

Several restorations followed over the years and the most extensive restoration work on the prang was undertaken from 2013 to 2017, during which a substantial number of broken tiles were replaced and lime plaster was used to re-finish many of the surfaces (replacing the cement used during earlier restorations).

As the work neared its end in 2017, photographs of the results drew some criticism for the temple’s new appearance, which seemed white-washed compared to its previous state. The criticism was defended by the Fine Arts Department, who did the restoration, by stating that it was carefully done to reflect the temple’s original appearance.

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Intricate porcelain work on the walls of the prang (spire) Wat Arun, Thonburi, Bangkok

Apart from the prang (spire), built in Khmer style, the Wat Arun complex contains several other shrines complete with pavilions and gateways but the 70 m (aprox) spire remains the centre of attraction.

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Entrance gate of the Ordination Hall, Wat Arun, Thonburi, Bangkok 

The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prang. The prang are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.

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Ordination Hall, Wat Arun, Thonburi, Bangkok 

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 prang are various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals.

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Niramitr Buddha image, inside Ordination Hall, Wat Arun, Thonburi, Bangkok 

The prang has three levels and they can be reached by a steep staircases, but visitors are allowed only to the first level only after paying a fee of 50 bhats.

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View of Chao Pharya River and Grand Palace from Wat Arun

Next to the prang is the Ordination Hall with a Niramitr Buddha image supposedly designed by King Rama II.

The Ordination Hall is approached by a beautiful gateway flanked by two towering statues of sentinels guarding the temple.

In spite of the thousand of visitors  the Ordination Hall remains an oasis of peace. The entire complex of Wat Arun is beautifully landscaped with pathways, lawns and manicured trees.

But the most spectacular view of the glittering monument can be seen from the east side of the river at sunset as Wat Arun’s colorfully decorated spires sparkle radiantly over the water.

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Wat Arun across the Chao Pharya River, Thonburi, Bangkok

Tourist Information:

Approach: Wat Arun is best approached by ferry across the Chao Pharya River from Tha Tien pier (near Wat Pho, Temple of reclining Buddha). Fare 5 baht
Entry Fee: Entry is free but if you plan to visit the first tier of the prang entry fee is 50 baht for foreigners.
Dress Code: It is a functional Buddhist temple so there is a dress code. Men must wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts. Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.

Note: I visited Thailand as part of a FAM trip organized by Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways.

Special Thanks:

  • Aso Lori (TAT, New Delhi) and Sajid Khan (Thai Airways, Kolkata)
  • My fellow FAM participants Amit Sachdev (Unique Air Travels), Sanjay Kr Kothari (Just Holidays), Vandana Arya (Gainwell Leisure Holidays), Piyush Banerjee (Discovery Holidays), Asif Alim (Neptune Holidays) and Nandini Gangully (T2, The Telegraph)

 

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  1. December 22, 2018 at 2:29 AM

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