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Wat Arun Ratchawararam: A Majestic Temple on the Chao Phraya River

Wat Arun Ratchawararam: A Majestic Temple on the Chao Phraya River

Thailand boasts a wealth of history and culture, and Wat Arun Ratchawararam, or the Temple of Dawn, stands out as one of the most magnificent examples. Situated on the western bank of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is a top tourist destination and a must-see attraction for anyone intrigued by Thai history and architecture.

Read more: Trails to the Mae Tang River, Chiang Mai

History of Wat Arun Ratchawararam

The temple’s origins remain a mystery, as its founding date is unknown. Legend has it that it was constructed during the Ayutthaya period (1351–1767) by King Taksin the Great after he had defeated the Burmese invaders and declared himself king. The temple is named after the Hindu god Aruna, the charioteer of the sun god Surya. However, the temple’s first historical reference dates to the 17th century, during the reign of King Narai the Great (1656–1688). At that time, the temple was known as Wat Makok after the village in which it stood. Later, during the reign of King Taksin (1767–1782), the temple was enlarged and restored, and the central prang (tower) was constructed, making it the iconic structure that we see today.

The architecture of Wat Arun Ratchawararam

The temple’s central prang is the most striking feature, standing 79 meters tall and adorned with colorful pieces of Chinese porcelain and seashells. The prang is encircled by four smaller towers that represent the four winds, and the temple courtyard is replete with statues of mythical creatures and demons. The intricacy of the temple’s architecture is astounding, with ornate carvings on the wooden doors and gilded roof tiles that adorn every inch of the temple, exemplifying the skill and creativity of the Thai craftsmen who built it.

Visiting Wat Arun Ratchawararam

The temple is open to visitors every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with an entrance fee of 100 baht (approximately $3 USD). Visitors are required to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the temple. It’s essential to be mindful of the temple’s religious significance and follow the regulations established by the temple authorities. Climbing the central prang is a popular activity, but the steep and narrow stairs may pose a challenge for those with mobility issues. However, the stunning view of the Chao Phraya River and the cityscape from the top of the tower is well worth the effort.

In conclusion

Wat Arun Ratchawararam is a captivating temple that reveals the rich history and culture of Thailand. Its splendid architecture and stunning location on the banks of the Chao Phraya River make it an essential tourist attraction for anyone visiting Bangkok. Whether your interests lie in history, religion, or architecture, Wat Arun is an unforgettable experience.

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