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Timings : 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

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Wat Arun, Bangkok Overview

An ancient structure dating back to the battles between the former Siam and Burma, Wat Arun is a place of worship with rich past. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, the site was built by remaining survivors and General Taksin. Later, the temple was renamed as Aruna after the Indian God of dawn to commemorate the founding of a new Ayutthaya, the former capital of the kingdom.

The temple is a massive structure with a key highlight being the 82m-high rahng (Khmer-style tower). This structure was constructed by Rama II and later completed by Rama III during the first half of the 19th century. As one reach up close, the intricate design of ornate floral mosaics made from broken, multihued Chinese porcelain becomes prominent. The main idol of Buddha installed is said to be designed by King Rama II while the striking murals adorning the temple date back to from the reign of Rama V.

An eye-catching feature of Wat Arun is the depiction of Prince Siddhartha encountering examples of birth, old age, sickness and death outside his palace walls. These stages finally lead him to abandon worldly life. Presiding at the base of the Buddha idol is the ashes of Rama II. However, the scariest aspect of this divine temple is its steep flight of stairs. As one reaches the top, it is a different story. The view of Chao Phraya River with the sun setting just above is a stunning sight making for an unforgettable memory.

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Wat Arun Architecture

 

Wat Arun at Night
Wat Arun at Night
(Source)
Wat Arun is easily visible from the city of Bangkok, given its location by the banks of Chao Phraya River. The structure consists of a central Prang, a Khmer-style Tower, which stands 79 meters high along with four smaller Prangs on the four sides. The four outer corners of the temple have statues, designed to guard the four directions.

The Central Prang
The Central Prang is adorned with a colourful mosaic of china porcelain that beautifies the structure in its own unique way. The mesmerising aesthetic is enhanced every evening when the last rays of the sunset light up every piece of this porcelain puzzle across its western surface. The steep stairs of the central prang make it next to impossible for anyone to climb its entirety, but two of its terraces may be accessed with some efforts. The base of the prang starts from the first terrace and is filled with depictions of mythical characters, mainly scenes of Buddha’s life. The second terrace has representations of the Hindu God Indra and his elephant Airavata.

The Central Prang

 

Central Prang of Wat Arun
The Central Prang of the Wat Arun, covered in Buddhist exquisite
carvings and beautiful iconography 
(Source)
At the height of around 80 metres with a beautiful mosaic of porcelain and seashells forming its outer layer, the Central prang happens to be the most revered structure in the temple complex. With its multi-terraced look amplifying its magnificence, the Central Prang is an excellent example of the Khmer architecture. At the top of this edifice lies a seven-pronged trident. As a religious structure, the Central Prang follows the traditional Buddhist iconography of having three symbolic levels. The steep stairs on the central prang lead to two terraces allowing the visitors a panoramic view of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Pho and The Grand Palace at the same time. At sunset, the beautiful detail of the facade of the Central Prang is enhanced, making it the star attraction of Wat Arun.

Other Wat Arun Structures

Ordination Hall at Wat Arun
The Ordination Hall at Wat Arun
(Source)
  • The Prangs: Four smaller prangs surround the central prang in the four directions with depictions of their guarding images facing the four directions.
  • The Ordination Hall: The Ordination Hall at Wat Arun houses some beautiful mural paintings portraying the life of Buddha. The image of the Golden Buddha is a peaceful sight to look at. A colourful central spire greets visitors as they enter this hall.
  • The view opposite Wat Arun at sunset is a must-see for the visitors.

Dress Code

The dress code in Wat Arun is strict. Men are required to wear long pants and at least half sleeved shirts, while women are required to wear dresses not revealing bare shoulders and must cover at least till the knee length.

Wat Arun History

Wat Arun
A View of Wat Arun from the Stairs of the Central Prang
(Source)
Wat Arun has survived ages and now stands as a prominent landmark of the ancient architecture of the Chakri Dynasty. Formerly known as Wat Makok, the temple was made a Royal Temple when King Taksin took the throne to himself and renamed it as Wat Chaeng/Jaeng. Taksin grew insecure of the Buddhist monks and pushed them out of the temple so that he could worship privately. The statue of the Emerald Buddha from Wat Chaeng was relocated to Wat Pho after the death of Taksin. The Temple of Dawn continued to be held in high regards even without the statue. The monks regained the access to Wat Arun during the rule of Rama I.

King Rama II
King Rama II eventually renamed the temple as Wat Arun, thus revamping it to its former glory fuelled by a modern name.

King Rama III
King Rama III raised the Prang to 79 meters and completed the restoration with a mosaic of multi-coloured china porcelain. All of the efforts of these three kings have resulted in the astonishing structure glittering at sunset that we can now admire.

Cosmology

Wat Arun is believed to be the architectural representation of Mount Meru, which is the centre of the world in Buddhist Cosmology. The Central Prang and the four guardians facing the four directions symbolise this belief. The many figurines within the premises represent various religious aspects.

Visitor Tips

Tips for Visiting Wat Arun

Wat Arun
Wat Arun During Sunset
(Source)
  • The place is moderately crowded during the day, and most people gather at Wat Arun in the evening for the sunset.
  • The stairs to the terraces are pretty steep and do not provide access to wheelchairs. Plan accordingly if you are accompanying anyone specially-abled.
  • Follow the dress code prescribed, as it is a strict policy and a sign of respect to the community’s sentiments.
  • Wear comfortable footwear for the walkaround.
  • Guides are available through online bookings as well as onsite. Be certain about requiring their service to avoid unnecessary complications.
  • Do not hurt the religious sentiments by buying Buddha statues for decorative purposes.
  • The ideal way to reach Wat Arun is through a ferry from the Central Pier, located close to the Grand Palace. Thus, tourists can club both these attractions together on their visit here to soak in most of Thai heritage and culture.

How To Reach Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun
Wat Arun along Chao Phraya River
(Source)
Wat Arun is located on Arun Amarain Road, found on the west banks of the Chao Phraya River, opposite the southwest corner of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The best way to travel here is by taking the BTS SkyTrain to the Saphan Taksin station. Upon exiting the station, you will find the Central pier, from where you can take a ferry to pier 8. A small river ferry will take you across the river from here to the Tha Tien express pier. You can walk a little from here to reach Wat Arun.

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