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Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn in Bangkok

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, represents an important religious and cultural symbol and is one of the most visited sites in Bangkok. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture and importance of Wat Arun.

This temple, whose full name is “Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawarahawihan,” is an ancient Buddhist temple located on the western side of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, an area of Bangkok. Its history has deep roots in ancient Thailand and dates back to the 17th century. The temple was built during the reign of King Taksin, who ruled the Thonburi Kingdom after the fall of Ayutthaya. Its location near the river has a history dating back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom and when the area was an important trading port.

The unique architecture of Wat Arun

Wat Arun is known for its distinctive architecture. Its most iconic feature is the central “prang”, a stepped tower decorated with multi-coloured ceramics, with figures of demons and deities. The central tower represents Mount Meru, the home of Hindu and Buddhist deities, and is a symbol of the connection between the human world and the divine.

The staircase leading to the top of the tower is steep and requires some physical stamina, but the panoramic views of the city of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River make the climb rewarding. Broken ceramics from broken Chinese porcelain were used to decorate the tower, creating a mosaic glittering in the sun.

Around the central prang, you will find four smaller prangs, dedicated to the wind deities: Phra Phai, Phra Wind, Phra Phaeng, and Phra Decha. Each prang is decorated with intricate details and offers spectacular views of the river and city.

The importance of the temple for the Buddhist religion

The name “Temple of Dawn” derives from Aruna, the Hindu deity who personifies the dawn. According to Hindu mythology, Aruna is the brother of Garuda, the legendary bird. Aruna is represented as a young man with a radiant face and a body radiant with light. He rides a chariot drawn by seven white horses across the sky at dawn, heralding the arrival of a new day.

The connection between the temple and Aruna is based on the iconographic representation of him. The temple is decorated with multi-colored ceramics and this gives the entire structure a radiant and luminous appearance, similar to the first rays of the sun spreading at dawn. Early morning and sunset are the best times to visit the temple, when sunlight interacts spectacularly with its architecture.

Wat Arun panorama

Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple, but its history is rooted in Hindu tradition. The temple’s main tower, known as the “prang,” represents Mount Meru, which is the home of Hindu and Buddhist deities. This symbolizes the connection between the human world and the divine. Wat Arun is therefore a place of profound spirituality and reflection.

Inside the temple complex, you’ll find statues and images of Buddhist deities, including the Buddha, along with offerings of flowers and candles left by devotees. Religious ceremonies are frequent, and visitors are encouraged to respect religious practices and maintain respectful behavior during their visit.

How to get to the Temple of Dawn and useful advice

  • To reach Wat Arun, you can take a boat along the Chao Phraya River from various parts of Bangkok. The temple is located on the western bank of the river and is easily accessible by boat. Be sure to check boat times and fares, as they may vary.
  • Wat Arun is open every day from early morning until late afternoon. It is recommended to visit early in the morning or at sunset to enjoy the cooler temperatures and spectacular views.
  • Please wear respectful clothing when visiting the temple. Cover shoulders, knees and feet. Light clothing, such as scarves or sarongs, can be useful for covering exposed body parts.

In conclusion, Wat Arun is an architectural masterpiece and an important religious site that offers visitors a window into the culture and history of Thailand. Its beauty and cultural importance make it a must-see for anyone visiting Bangkok. When you visit, remember to show respect for the spirituality and sacredness of the place.