Wat Arun Ratchawararam (Temple of Dawn)
See Video Impression of Wat Arun at bottom of this page.
See Location Map
Central Prang (Phra Prang) at Wat Arun
Wat Arun Ratchawararam is classified as a first class Royal temple and is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It dates from the Ayutthaya Kingdom period and its present name was given by King Rama IV.
The most outstanding feature of Wat Arun is its prominent Central Prang, surrounded by 4 smaller satellite prangs and 4 mondops (porches). The central prang reaches about 81 meters in height. The major prang and the four satellite prangs were constructed during the second and third reigns (1809-1851). The prangs are made of brick, covered with stucco, and thousands of pieces of multicolored Chinese porcelain and Benjarong ceramics. The central prang has three circumambulatory galleries, that can be reached by rather steep (be careful) staircases. From the highest gallery you can get the closest view of the 4 niches above, each containing a figure of Indra on his three-headed elephant.
The central prang represents Mount Meru, home of the gods.
Indra seated on three-headed elephant, Wat Arun.
The four smaller prangs that surround the main one, each house a statue of Phra Phai, the wind-god, placed in niches. As such, the four smaller prangs symbolize the four winds. Statues of giants and monkeys surround all structures and aim to support them.
In the middle of each side of the square formed by the smaller prangs mondops (porches) ae located, that contain Buddha images depicting the four stages of the Buddha's life : birth, meditation, preaching and enlightenment.
From the highest gallery you reach, you get a good view over the Chao Phraya river.
Overview of Wat Arun, from the river.
Besides the imposing prang, Wat Arun of course also has a number of other important temple structures such as its Ubosoth (Ordination Hall), the Viharn, a gallery with Buddha Images around the Ubosoth, a bell tower, a mondop with Buddha's foot print, and two temple guardian figures in front of the Ubosoth.
The Ubosoth closes relatively early, around 4.30 P.M., so you would have to come on time if you want to have a look inside.
Giants supporting the central prang. Wat Arun.
Wat Arun can be reached very easily by boat from the Eastern side of Bangkok. A very regular service is offered from Tha Tien, which is located behind Wat Pho. The river crossing takes maybe 2 minutes, and is the only time when you will be able to take an overview picture of Wat Arun's prangs. The transfer costs only 3 baht.
As mentioned, Tha Tien is just behind Wat Pho, so you could visit both Wat Pho and Wat Arun in one outing.
One of 4 small prangs surrounding the main prang at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Bangkok