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Wat Arun

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In 1768, when King Taksin travelled down the Chao Phraya River in search of a site for the new capital, he arrived at dawn at an old wat where he paid his respects. He re-named it Wat Jaeng—a name later changed again to Wat Arun—both of which roughly translate as “Temple of Dawn.” It remains one of Bangkok’s signature landmarks and is well worth an up-close look.

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After the dramatic fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, a seasoned general, Taksin, became king after the repulsion of Burmese forces from Siam. He built a modest palace on the west bank of the Chao Phraya in Thonburi, making Wat Jaeng the royal temple, but was executed 15 years later after his court alleged that he had lost his mind. King Rama I then moved the royal palace—and the sacred Emerald Buddha—across the river to their current locations.

Bigger than it looks. Photo taken in or around Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

Bigger than it looks. Photo: David Luekens

Renaming the wat after Aruna, the Hindu god of the rising sun, King Rama II initiated new construction in the early 19th century. The main feature was a corncob-shaped prang in the Khmer design that stood 16 metres tall, which King Rama III later stretched to its current 80-metre height. Towering beside the river, the prang is arguably the most recognisable structure in Thailand—as important to Bangkok’s aesthetic identity as Big Ben is for London’s.

Starting at an enormous base, the prang recedes in width as it stretches up to dark green images of the Hindu god Indra balancing on the three headed elephant Erawan in niches on all four sides. Crowning the prang is an iron thunderbolt, or vajra, Indra’s preferred weapon in Hindu mythology. Mondops and smaller prangs rise from the outer edges and contain images of Buddha and Phra Phai, the Thai representation of the Hindu god of wind. Depicted as if bearing the weight of the structure, dozens of celestial beings and simian warriors rim each of the three ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Wat Arun is usually reached by boat. River ferries on the orange flag and blue flag (tourist) lines stop at the main pier directly in front of the complex. Cross-river ferries depart from Tha Tien Pier (near Wat Pho) and run across to a second pier at the northern corner of the complex.

Wat Arun
Arun Ammarin Rd, Thonburi
Mo–Su: 08:00–17:00
T: (02) 891 2185
Admission: 50 baht

Location map for Wat Arun

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