Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)
This Buddhist temple is situated in the district of Bangkok Yai on the west bank of Chao Phraya River on the Thonburi side. Being named after Aruna, the Hindu God, this is amongst the most photographed and famous temple in Bangkok. It features a 86m spire, decorated with Chinese porcelain and coloured glass pieces.
Though unbelievable, the count of Buddhist temple in Thailand would easily go over 31200. The Thai people call the temples ‘wat’. Wat Arun is one such temple that has been named after the god Aruna who is the god of dawn according to the Indian tradition. Wat Arun remains one of the most interesting riverside landmarks in Thailand. In spite of the name, you can have the most spectacular and amazing view of this glittering and shining monument from the river’s eastern side during sunset. It is during this time when an impressive silhouette is made against the skyline by Wat Arun’s spires.
It is recommended to spend an hour here at least, especially during sunset. The best time to visit this temple is early morning, just before the crowd starts rushes in. You need to make sure to dress appropriately since this is a holy place for Buddhists.
The Central Prang has the architectural representation of the Mount Meru which forms the world’s centre according to Buddhist cosmology. The Tibetan Buddhism mythology has it that the mountain Meru represents the universal centre along with the singularity of mind which is sought by the experts. Meru goes somewhere beyond thousand miles in height, the location of Meru is at some point between the physical point of the reality, in a layer constituted of transcendence and perfection.
The main feature of Wat Arun is the stupa-like pagoda in the center that stands at 86m.
Wat Arun’s four corner prang that house the images of guardian gods of 4 directions also reinforces the mystical symbolism.
There are four smaller satellite prangs around the center prang of two different designs.
You can find various statue of ancient Chinese soldiers around the base of the prang.
The towers have rows of demons and gods having a hold-up gesture.
If you have extra time, it is refreshing to take a break at the pavilion by the river and have a scroll around the garden.
If you have the chance to visit Wat Arun at night, you’ll be amazed at the golden structure.
The best way to get to Wat Arun is by boat. The smaller boats like the one in the picture above charge higher as they provide other river cruise service too. The cheap way is taking Chao Phraya Express Boat, which goes up and down the river for 20 baht only.