on July 9, 2006
Towards the late 18th century King Taksin established Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, as the seat of royal power and worship, and home to the Emerald Buddha. After the accession of a new king the royal focus moved to Wat Phra Kaew, however, Wat Arun remained an important religious and historical site.The central praang is approximately 80 metres high and forms a recognisable landmark on the riverside. You can walk up the lower tiers (the steps are quite steep so take care) and see in closer detail the fierce looking statues—Kinnari (half bird and half human) and Yakshas (demons)—which support the upper levels and also the Chinese porcelain that was used to decorate the structure. Four smaller but still richly decorated prangs surround this central pillar.Get close up to the central prang and other structures in Wat Arun and you will see that they are highly decorated with pieces of porcelain made into different patterns. The porcelain was brought to Bangkok as ballast in Chinese trading ships.Although the central prang does dominate the complex there is also a wonderful courtyard nearby looking like the sort of landscape where a martial arts fight would take place! Under a rectangular and blissfully shady veranda sit a large number of gold coloured Buddhas, and in front of this are numerous wonderful statues of monks, beasts, and warriors on horseback. In the middle is a beautifully decorated pavilion—not open when we were there—and a fine golden Buddha in another shrine. There are also some interesting views towards the central prang from the courtyard and the terrace outside the shrine.The whole complex, with its great views of the river, is a wonderful place to wander around. The anticipation as you cross the river and the prang looms bigger in your view will certainly be borne out by your visit.
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