on January 12, 2008
Engraved on the ten Baht coin, Wat Arun - namely the Dawn Temple - is one of the most distinctive views of Bangkok. LocationOfficially, the temple is in Thonburi, the former Thai capital located across the Chao Praya River from Bangkok. Reaching the TempleIt is possible to reach Wat Arun with one of the ferry boats crossing the Chao Praya River from the Tha Chang Pier near Wat Phra Kaeo – the Grand Palace - or Tha Tian Pier near Wat Pho. Overland, it can be reached with buses 83, 19 and 57.TimingDespite the temple’s name, the best time for a visit is during the late afternoon, when the dusk light creates stunning effects on its colorful pillars. The best place to see it is across the river or from one of the boats traveling along it.Coated with PorcelainThe unique look of the temple is due to the millions of pieces of colorful Chinese porcelain coating it; the story says that broken porcelain brought as ballast by merchant ships in the 17th century was used to cover its exterior. StructureWat Arun's central Khmer styled prang (column) - which at a height of 82 metres is Thailand’s tallest - rests on three levels of terraces and is surrounded by four smaller corner prangs, intermingled with four mondops. Below it, next to the riverside are six pavilions made of green granite and including landing bridges.On the first terrace, are designs of giants and monkeys encircling the central prang, along with images of other Thai mythological creatures. The second terrace has an exquisite pavilion, with four statues showing events in the life of Buddha. Near the smaller prangs is an Ordination Hall with an important Buddha statue placed by King Rama II. The third terrace offers a view of the river and the surrounding area. It is possible to climb up the terraces and have good views of the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok across it. The Emerald BuddhaAfter the Emerald Buddha was brought from Laos and before it was put in the new Grand Palace across the river, it was kept within Wat Arun.Baptizing BangkokWat Arun was built during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Back then it was named Wat Makok - the Olive Temple; the small village across the river was named after it, and even after the modern Krung Thep became the kingdom’s capital, many people still refer to it as Bangkok ("ban" means "village" in Thai – the name got a bit mispronounced during time).
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