The History of Wat Arun
Wat Arun is known as the Temple of Dawn located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi. It is a very prominent landmark in Bangkok. This temple is best seen from the opposite river bank. The complete name of this temple is Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan.
Wat Arun is a temple complex that consists of the towers, the so-called ‘Phra Prang’ (spires) which symbolize the Mount Meru of Hindu cosmology. There are also narrow lanes, old white buildings, shrines and two giants called ‘Yak Wat Jaeng’ who are the mortal enemies of the ‘Yak Wat Pho’ located across the river. The Yaks are figures from the Thai Ramakien, the white figure is called Sahassa Deja and the green one is Thotsakan, the Demon Rāvana.
The temple has existed since the days when Ayutthaya was Thailand’s capital. It was then named Wat Makok in the place called Bangmakok meaning ‘Village of Olive’. Hence, Bangmakok was shortened to ‘Bangkok’.
After defeating the Burmese Army in Ayutthaya, King Taksin reached this place to establish the new capital Thonburi. He arrived at dawn and thus renamed the temple ‘Wat Jeang’. ‘Jeang’ means bright, dawn and clear. During his reign, no monks lived in this temple. However, it was used to house the Emerald Buddha which is located at Wat Phra Kaeow today.
King Taksin’s General had taken the Emerald Buddha from Vientiane in Laos to Wat Jeang. Later after King Taksin’s death, this General became King Rama I (Buddha Yodfa Chulaoke). Eventually, King Rama I moved his capital from Thonburi to Bangkok taking the Emerals Buddha with him. There the Buddha was moved to his present site in the Emerald Buddha Temple.
King Rama II (1809-1824) started the construction of the tall spire and the four smaller ones. This was completed by King Rama III (1824-1851). The towers are supported by rows of demons and monkeys and very narrow steps lead to a balcony on the central tower.
The towers are built of brick covered with stucco and the decorations are also unique. There are numerous pieces of multi-coloured Chinese porcelain.
The central tower also harbours the figure of the God Indra seated on his vehicle Erawan which is the three-headed elephant. What is more, there are also figures of the Moon God on a white horse. In addition, the trident of Shiva extends from the top of each tower.
Thus, the central balcony offers an impressive view of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River. From there you can also see the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho.
Summing up, I find that Wat Arun is one of the most impressive monuments that I have ever seen. I really love to visit this place soon again 🙂