Gypsy's Travels


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bangkok, Thailand - Wat Arun

(Note: Click on collage to enlarge.)
When, having fallen to the Burmese, Ayutthaya was reduced to rubble and ashes, General Taksin and the remaining survivors vowed to march "until the sun rose again", and there to build a temple. Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, stands on the spot to which they came and where later the new king built his royal palace and with it a private chapel.
Wat Arun is a Khmer-style Buddhist Temple on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It was quite visible from our day of touring on the taxi/ tour boat, but appeared quite bland and ordinary from a distance compared with the gilded temples we were visiting. Still, its reputation preceded it and we took a taxi-boat across the river to explore. We were not disappointed.

The impressive central prang, a Khmer-style pagoda, is 79 meters (259 feet) tall. It symbolizes Mount Meru, which is considered the center of the universe. The smaller prangs at the four corners are dedicated to Phra Phai, the wind god. What appeared to be bland and boring from a distance, was entrancing on closer inspection. One reference says: "Since the ground beneath it was so swampy, thousands of bamboo stems were laid across one another and the spaces created by this lattice were filled with clay. In this way, a foundation capable of bearing a sufficient weight was created." The decorations on the prangs were seashells and bits of porcelain used to make patterns in the gray plaster that covered a brick core. The porcelain had reportedly been used as ballast by boats plying their trade from China to Bangkok. Charming sculptures of what I have seen variously described as demons, guardians, and soldiers, appear to balance the prangs, while sculptures of Chinese soldiers and animals decorate the base.
DS and I climbed the steep steps for the views available from the two terraces.
Although Wat Arun means Temple of the Dawn, it is said to catch the best light at sunset. We managed to sandwich our exploration of the temple and the grounds between two heavy downpours. No chance of any sun that day.
Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan
Wat Arun - Temple of the Dawn - Bangkok, Thailand
The first class royal temple that was built in the Ayutthaya period, was first called Wat Makok, then changed to Wat Makok Nok because there was another new temple in the area called Wat Makok Nai (Wat Nualnoradit). In a later period, King Taksin the Great formed the troop via the river from Ayutthaya and reached the temple in the early dawn. The sight inspired him to renovate the place and change the name to Wat Chaeng, meaning the temple of dawn. Thonburi was the capital in 1768. The king built the new palace that surrounded the temple, Wat Chaeng was the temple in the palace that without the monks resided. The royal temple of Thonburi was the holding place for the Emerald Buddha and Phra Bang, the Buddha images, which were brought in from Vientiane in the reign of King Rama I. When the capital and royal palace were moved from Thonburi to Bangko, the wall of Thonburi Palace was destroyed. When Wat Chaeng was no longer the temple in the palace, the monks were allowed to reside there. The renovation of the palace continued until the reign of King Rama II who changed the temple's name to Wat Arun Ratchatharam. It was renovated again during the time of King Rama IV. Once again the King changed its name to Wat Arun Ratchawararam.

2 comments:

  1. You have learned and experienced something that most people will never know. All of the children will be exposed to your knowledge, I'm sure.

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  2. You have the most interesting photographs of anyone I've ever seen. Your travels are amazing! Thanks for sharing with your public at large. :)

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