Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand
(built by Rama II)

high-definition creative commons photographs from Bangkok, showing the architecture, decorations, statues and Jataka murals in this Royal Temple, together with further relevant information.

Prang   Ubosot   Viharn


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Wat Arun Prang

The Ubosot and its Murals

The Viharn and other Buildings


Wat Arun Rajwararam (Temple of the Dawn) is in the Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The full name of the temple is Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan. The temple is so named because the first light of dawn (aruna) reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence.

The monastery has existed since before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand in the early 19th century, and was originally known as Wat Chaeng. At the beginning it was located in the palace grounds on the East side of the river and during the time of Rama I it moved over to the Thonburi side. The Wat at one time eshrined the emerald Buddha image before it was transferred to Wat Phra Kaew in the late 18th century.

The main feature of Wat Arun is its central Prang, a Khmer-style tower, which is encrusted with colourful ceramics and stuccoware. The main prang is surrounded by four smaller satellite prangs at the cardinal points. The prangs are decorated with seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.

Construction of the tall prang and four smaller ones was begun during the reign of by King Rama II between 1809-1824 A.D. and was completed during the reign of King Rama III, 1824-1851. The towers are supported by rows of yakkhas and devas. There is a very steep and narrow stairway leading to a balcony high on the central tower. The circumference of the base of the structure is 234 meters, and the central prang is said to be 250 foot high.

The central prang is topped with a seven-pronged trident, sometimes referred to as the Trident of Shiva. Around the base of the prangs are various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals. Over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Airawan; and there are also horsemen in some of the niches. The central prang symbolizes Mount Meru of the Indian cosmology, and the satellite prangs are devoted to the wind god, Phra Phai.

At the front of the Ordination Hall is a Niramit Buddha image designed by King Rama II. The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, and it is decorated in colourful ceramic and stuccowork. There are two demons, or temple guardian figures, at the front inspired by the Ramakhein.

The rather fine murals inside the Ubosot were created during the reign of Rama V, 1868-1910, and represent the last ten Jataka stories of the Bodhisatta, together with scenes from the last life, in which he became the Buddha. They appear to have been restored at some point recently, but parts are again in need of restoration. There is a large colonnade around the Ubosot, which has many Buddha images, as well as Chinese figures and some fine decorative work.

The presiding Buddha image in the Viharn, cast in the reign of King Rama II, is said to have been moulded by the king himself, and the ashes of the same King are buried in the base of the image. At the riverside are six pavilions (sala) made of green granite in Chinese style, and there are numerous other buildings around the compound, including a high building containing a Putthabat (Buddha's Footprint, or Siripada), the monastic quarters and a burial pavillion.

Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, January 25th 2012)


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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