Wat Arun, The Temple of the Dawn, with a height of approx. 80 meters is not only one of the tallest religious buildings in Thailand, but also the most famous landmark of Bangkok in the Thonburi district.
When King Taksin founded the new, provisional capital in Thonburi after the destruction of Ayuthaya, an older temple with the name Wat Chaeng was already standing at this point. (According to another version it was called Wat Makok.) At that time, this Wat was already in need of repair. The king made the decision to enlarge it and to bring its central tower from 15 meters to the present height. The renovation took so many years because of the soft ground near the river that King Taksin himself could not see the completion. Wat Arun was not completed until the reign of Rama III 1824-1851).
The architectural achievements of the time were masterful. In order to sufficiently strengthen the substructure on the spongy floor, not only long teak logs were rammed into the ground, but the pieces of wood were laid on top of each other in a grid and everything was filled with lumps of stone and clay. This mixture was then tamped together to cementitious strength. So the Wat Arun got a stable foundation.
The central tower (prang) is completely covered with cemented colored pieces of Chinese porcelain. However, the builders did not have enough porcelain for the large structure, and so the third Chakri king, Rama III, was ultimately forced to oblige his subjects to deliver every piece of broken porcelain for the completion of the temple decoration. In this way the missing, large quantities of porcelain pieces were brought in.
Wat Arun symbolizes the Buddhist universe: the large prang represents Mount Meru, on which the world rests, the four smaller prangs that surround it embody the four oceans. On the lower terrace of the main prang there are four pavilions that represent the four highlights of the Buddha’s life: birth, enlightenment, first conversion and death. You can also find the Hindu god Indra on the three-headed elephant Erawan, as well as a moon deity on a white horse.
The Temple of Dawn is on the west bank of the Chao Phaya. It can be reached either via Arun Amarin Road or with a so-called water taxi from Tha Tien (Tien Pier) at Wat Pho, or any other landing stage. Once there, you have to pay the small entrance fee of 20 baht. On four steep stairs, some of which have no handrail, you can climb the temple up to about half the height, and have a wonderful view of the temple grounds, the Chao Phaya and the city.
Much is worth seeing: The great variety of porcelain fragments, numerous strange figures from former Chinese merchant ships, tender bird girls (kinnaris), laughing Chinese guard figures, monkeys, Garuda bird people and the typical thevadas who carry the huge towers with their heads and arms. Beautiful murals can be seen inside the bot. A must-see destination for every visitor to Bangkok.