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Bangkok Insight – The Temple of Dawn by the River of Kings

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Wat Arun (otherwise known as the Temple of Dawn) is a temple in Bangkok and one of the city’s best known landmarks.  It is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Bankok Yai district of the city.  The full name of the temple is Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan.

Wat Arun may have been named “Temple of the Dawn” because the first morning light reflects off the temple with a pearl looking iridescence.   It may also have been named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn.  The temple’s distinctive feature is its Khmer influenced spire, known as a prang.  The architecture style of the prang was adopted by Thai builders and is reserved for only the most important religious temples.  Along with the main central prang which stands at about 76 meters high, Wat Arun is surrounded by 4 smaller satellite prangs located at the corners.  The temple represents Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology.

Construction of the tall prang and the four smaller ones were started by King Rama II in 1809.  Around the base of the prangs are rows of demons and monkeys and four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan, a white multi-headed elephant.  The towers of Wat Arun are built from brick and covered with stucco.  The prangs are decorated by seashells and thousands of pieces of multicolored porcelain.  The central prang is topped with a seven-pronged trident, referred to by many as the trident of Shiva.

There are very steep and narrow steps that lead to a balcony high on the central tower.  The balcony offers impressive views of Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River and its surrounding area.  The Grand Palace, the temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho can all be seen from here.

Wat Arun had briefly hosted the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most sacred relics, which now resides in nearby Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace complex.  Despite its name, the temple is best viewed during the evening at the east side of the river with its spires making a gorgeous outline against the Bangkok horizon.

Explore Wat Arun and many other beautiful historic sites in Bangkok with Exotissimo’s Bangkokian Tour – Bangkok day trip.  Experience a side of Bangkok rarely seen by tourists as you step off the beaten path and in to the heart of the city.  Stroll through the bustling markets of Chinatown, glimpse in to the past at the Bangkok Folk Museum, and cruise along the city’s numerous canals.  End the day with a picturesque view of Wat Arun.  For an extended trip into the country, our Bangkok and Highlands Loop tour is for you, with detailed trips into many of the country’s historical sites and natural wonders.  You can also see other recommended Thailand tours from Exotissimo for other memorable trips into this wonderful country.

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