The word “Wat” in Thai means a Buddhist temple and amongst the more than 3,000 Wats in Thailand, “the Temple of the Dawn” is one of the most important. “Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan” to give the temple it’s full name, abbreviated to Wat Arun for short.Wat Arun was dedicated to the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna, the temple is aptly called “the Temple of the Dawn” because of the irridescent reflection of the sun on it’s surface in the early morning. However, the Wat is best viewed in early evening as the sun sets.
The Wat consists of a central “prang” with four smaller “prangs” at the four corners of the central “prang”. A “prang” is a spire that towers the Wat. Religious-wise, spires were a favorite architectural detail as it express man’s quest to reach out to their gods and heavens.
The main “prang” is approximately 100 meters tall and heavily decorated by bits of porcelain which came from the porcelain ballasts used by Chinesetraders. The “prang’s” uniquely blended Thai and Khmer architecture is a sight to behold.
The imposing prangs of “the Temple of the Dawn” were built in early 19th century under the rule of King Rama II and completed in the reign of King Rama III. Though the spires are fairly new and reflective of the Bangkok style of architecture, the temple where the “prang’s” sit is from the 12th to 13th century A.D. – late Khmer-Lopburi period and early Thai period.
The temple’s main prang is said to be a representation of Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist philosophy. The four lesser prangs represent the four elements: “air, water, wind and fire”. One of the smaller prangs has the sculpture of the god of wind, Pai.The main center prang has in its top a seven-thronged trident, the trident of Shiva, the supreme god in Hinduism.
The Wat is open daily from 8:30a.m. to 5:30p.m.,entrance to the temple is just a few Thai baht, but additional fees might be added as perceived by the temple staff. It’s not unusual to be approached by someone to donate to the Wat’s “cause”.
The best way to go to “the Temple of the Dawn” is to ride a water taxi from the Tha Tien pier, just opposite the Wat Arun. You can get to the Tha Tien pier by taking another boat from Chao Phraya River Pier. Buses are also available from Maharat Road.
The “Temple of the Dawn” is one of Bangkok’s top tourist destinations, and is definitely worth a visit!.