Some of the amazing Wats(Temples) in Thailand.
After the fall of Ayuthaya, King Taksin ceremoniously clinched control here on the site of a local shrine and established a royal palace and a temple to house the Emerald Buddha. The temple was renamed after the Indian god of dawn (Aruna) and in honour of the literal and symbolic founding of a new Ayuthaya.
When we visited, the spire of Wat Arun was closed due to renovation. Visitors can enter the compound, but cannot climb the tower.
It wasn’t until the capital and the Emerald Buddha were moved to Bangkok that Wat Arun received its most prominent characteristic: the 82m-high þrahng (Khmer-style tower). The tower’s construction was started during the first half of the 19th century by Rama II and later completed by Rama III. Not apparent from a distance are the ornate floral mosaics made from broken, multihued Chinese porcelain, a common temple ornamentation in the early Ratanakosin period, when Chinese ships calling at the port of Bangkok discarded tonnes of old porcelain as ballast.
Also worth an inspection is the interior of the bòht. The main Buddha image is said to have been designed by Rama II (King Phraphutthaloetla Naphalai; r 1809–24) himself. The murals date from the reign of Rama V (King Chulalongkorn; r 1868–1910); particularly impressive is one that depicts Prince Siddhartha encountering examples of birth, old age, sickness and death outside his palace walls, an experience that led him to abandon the worldly life. The ashes of Rama II are interred in the base of the presiding Buddha image.
Frequent cross-river ferries run over to Wat Arun from Tien Pier (3B).
Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha)
The attraction at Wat Traimit is undoubtedly the impressive 3m-tall, 5.5-tonne, solid-gold Buddha image, which gleams like, well, gold. Sculpted in the graceful Sukhothai style, the image was ‘discovered’ some 40 years ago beneath a stucco/plaster exterior, when it fell from a crane while being moved to a new building within the temple compound.
It has been theorised that the covering was added to protect it from marauding hordes, either during the late Sukhothai period or later in the Ayuthaya period when the city was under siege by the Burmese. The temple itself is said to date from the early 13th century.
Donations and a constant flow of tourists have proven profitable, and the statue is now housed in an imposing four-storey marble structure. The 2nd floor of the building is home to the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition, which has exhibits on how the statue was made, discovered and came to arrive at its current home, while the 3rd floor is home to the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center, a small but engaging museum with multimedia exhibits on the history of Bangkok’s Chinatown and its residents.
Other than being just plain huge and impressive, Wat Suthat also holds the highest royal temple grade. Inside the wí·hăhn (sanctuary for a Buddha sculpture) are intricate Jataka (stories of the Buddha) murals and the 8m-high Phra Si Sakayamuni, Thailand’s largest surviving Sukhothai-period bronze, cast in the former capital of Sukhothai in the 14th century. Today, the ashes of Rama VIII (King Ananda Mahidol; r 1935–46) are contained in the base of the image.
Behind the wí·hăhn, the bòht (ordination hall) is the largest of its kind in the country. To add to its list of ‘largests’, Wat Suthat holds the rank of Rachavoramahavihan, the highest royal temple grade. It also maintains a special place in the national religion because of its association with the Brahman priests who perform important ceremonies, such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May. These priests also perform religious rites at two Hindu shrines near the wát – Dhevasathan on Th Din So, and the smaller Vishnu Shrine on Th Unakan.
Hope you enjoy your stay in Thailand!
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