After visiting the ubosot, Foong and I went to the main goal of our trip which is the prang of Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or Temple of Dawn in simple English.
People mistake Wat Arun as the tall prang. Actually, Wat Arun is the ubosot and this is the beauty that King Taksin saw in the light of dawn as he fled from the Burmese invaders.
It is way beyond dawn when we reached Wat Arun aboard the Chao Phraya River express boat so we didn’t see what King Taksin saw 246 years ago. But the prang is still a view to behold even when the sun was already far above the horizon.
|Entrance to Wat Arun.|
I was excited to go near Wat Arun since it was my first time to visit a Buddhist pagoda (also known as prang). My plan was to climb its tallest tower, if possible.
Unlike the ubosot where anyone can enter without paying any fee, the entrance fee to Wat Arun is 50 Thai Baht. I believe that the fee is cheap due to the fact that Wat Arun is one of the royal temples.
A tarp at the entrance to Wat Arun caught my attention. It said “Worshiping the 9 Great Kings”. It made me wonder if the Thais really worship their kings. Or maybe the translation was wrong.
I again saw Chinese deities standing guard like this elegantly dressed warrior:
Wat Arun is composed of the main prang, standing tall at the center, and four smaller prangs located at the corners.
Wat Arun is filled with Thai art. The five prangs are embellished with creatures from Thai, Buddhist and Hindu myths. Seashells and porcelain, used as ballast by boats coming from China, were embedded on the sides of the prangs thus making it glow in the sun.*
The main tower is a Khmer-style prang.* It is said to represent Mount Meru, which is the center of the Buddhist cosmos.**
|Demons lifting "Mount Meru".|
Demons and other creatures were made to lift the tower. Well, I find that weird. If they are really demons then they should make the tower fall. Maybe they cannot do that because somebody is standing guard.
The view looking up at the base of the main prang is very good. I bet that it will look better during sunset, when the sky is burning red.
Climbing up the main prang of Wat Arun is not a joke. My heart beat wildly during my ascent. I gripped the railings hard. It is in that moment that my mind shouted that “I must not fall because I don’t want to die in Bangkok”. Foong and I were fortunate that no accident happened during our climb.
|Climbing up Wat Arun.|
The walkway at the end of the steps is narrow that we had to give way when we meet another tourist.
The steps that we climbed only took us to the second level of the prang. The steps to the upper levels were blocked so I had no choice but to look up the top of Wat Arun’s prang.
|"Pasan ko ang mundo."|
I thought that I will be able to reach the higher levels of Wat Arun. Oh well, for a tourist like me, this climb is already enough.
Located up the main prang is not the statue of Buddha but the statue of the Hindu god Indra sitting on a three headed elephant. He is placed on the prang because it was said that he protected Buddha. Another legend, documented in the very long name of Bangkok, says that Indra gave Bangkok to the Thais.***
The view from Wat Arun is perfect. I had a good view of the grounds of Wat Arun and the Chao Phraya River. I saw the Tha Tien Pier and other temples on the other side of the river.
The minor prang near the river looks elegant:
If going up is already difficult then going down the steps of Wat Arun is worse. It is not advisable to go down the usual way because you might fall headlong to the ground below. The best way, which is what we did, is to go down like the way we went up. We faced the steps, held on the railings and went down slowly.
I took my time going down Wat Arun. I didn’t my body to get smashed on the heavy concrete below. Thank God that we reached the ground safely.
Our visit to Wat Arun is one of my best trip in Bangkok. I agree with many travel bloggers and other tourists who say that Wat Arun is an excellent tourist spot in Thailand. For an entrance fee of 50 Baht you'll be able to see a royal temple. Its pagoda cannot be matched by any pagoda located in other parts of Thailand, even those located in Ayutthaya and Sukothai.
So, if you're going to Bangkok, I highly recommend Wat Arun.
*”Wat Arun” in Wikipedia.
**”Wat Arun – the Temple of Dawn” in Wat Arun.net.
***”Bangkok” in Wikipedia.
Read my other posts about our adventure to Wat Arun. Please visit the following: