Thursday, 22 January 2015

Day 2 - Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)

Today we caught the ferry to the Temple of Dawn, this is the local ferry not the tourist one, which gives you a real feel for the way the locals live, there were other tourists on board like us. 

Here we are at the entrance to Wat Arun ("Temple of the Dawn") in Bangkok. It is a Khmer-style Buddhist temple and major landmark on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

The outstanding feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (a prang is a Khmer-style pagoda), which is about 80 meters tall and symbolizes the legendary Mount Meru, center of the universe. It is possible to climb the prang, using some very steep exterior steps, to two terraces providing fine views.

These are the upper steps.

And these are both lots of steps – after we had descended.The steps are all about as high as your knee so not as easy as you would think to climb.

Look closely and you will see that the whole temple is made up of small pieces of ceramics, these include plates in their entirety really amazing when you inspect it up close.

This is a view of the Grand Palace that we saw yesterday.

The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prangs, which are dedicated to the wind god Phra Phai. The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which were used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.
We saw this Thai lady cutting china pieces to the shape drawn for her. See the yellow tiles in front of her. She was cutting the finest pieces off to get the shape exact. I like the fact that the mothers can take their children to work with them, her daughter standing the background.

Such stunning grounds.

In front of the principle Buddha, there are two adorned standing Buddha images located one to the left and right. Their posture is called "Calming the Ocean" (Pang Hamsamut). They symbolise paying homage to Her Royal Princess Wirat, Kron Muen Absonsudathep.

Beautiful temples and gardens. I have fallen in love with these wonderful trees which are bonsai style with little balls of leaves, they can be seen in all the temple gardens just so beautiful.

Then we found a Tuk-Tuk to take us to The Golden Mount.

A well-known landmark, the towering gold chedi of Wat Saket was once the highest point in Bangkok. Known for the Golden Mount or Phu Khao Thong, a high hill that offers stunning views at its summit over Rattanakosin Island. Also for hosting of the annual Loy Kratong festival.

Nice quiet temple that overlooking Bangkok away from the hustle and bustle, just a bit of a climb to the top 400 steps, that is a lot after this morning effort to climb The Temple of Dawn where the steps were as tall as your knee.

The mount is artificial; King Rama III ordered it built, but it was not competed until the reign of Rama V. You ascend sunwise (clockwise) from tropical foliage onto stairways that offer wonderful views of the surrounding temple complexes, until you arrive at the small shrine on top, Along the way both up and down you'll pass courtyards lined with sacred bells. The sound of the bells is a nice addition to the overall ambience.

After our walk yesterday we knew who this was, Mother Earth squeezing her hair to provide clean drinking water for the people of earth. This Goddess is very important here in Thailand and is honoured in a lot of places we have been.

This temple hosts the ashes of Lord Buddha.

And when we climbed to the very top we saw the Golden Mount chedi. Prayer board seen here on the right are facing each cardinal direction and pilgrims offer there prayers whilst on top of the mount.

And great views!

The contrast of life that is Bangkok is seen everywhere but this photo really shows the contrast well.

And on our way down we saw this setting of ancient burial.

Then we walked to Wat Thepthidaram

King Rama III of Chakriwongse Dynasty wished to commemorate his daughter, Her Royal Princess Wilat with a temple in 1836.  His royal order was given to his son. His Royal Prince Laddawan who was born by Lady Aim Noi, to put forth his plan to build the temple which was successfully completed in 1839.  His Majesty the King Rama III named the temple as Wat Thepthidaram which means ‘Heavenly Angel’ (Absornsudathep).  His Majesty then attended the opening ceremony as chief principle of the Buddhist ceremony on December 22, 1839.

The Bhikkhunis (Female Monks)

The statue of 52 Bhikkhunis are beautifully situated in the Main Hall.  They were built with Thai bronze with the measurement of 11w X 21h inches.  They are all located facing the Buddha Image in different postures.  They are one of the oldest and rarest Bhikkhuni statues left in the world.

The Principle Buddha (Lucky Buddha)

Phra Phuttha Thewawirat is the Principle Buddha image situated in the Ordination Hall.  He was beautifully carved from pure white stone with the measurement of 14w X 20h inches in the posture of ‘Subduing Mara’ (Pang Malwichai).  King Rama III brought him over from the Grand Royal Palace and placed him in the elegant Whetchayan Pavillion. Then, King Bhumipol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) renamed the Buddha Image as Phra Phuttha Thewawirat.  However, most people prefer calling him as Luang Pho Khao (White Buddha).

The monk was performing a blessing ceremony on each of the participants and we were asked to come in and watch, we sat watching the whole process, bring good luck and blessings for the New Year to these people. At the completion of their blessings the monk asked me to go before him and I also received the blessings and he spoke briefly in English to me then with a wad of reeds dipped in holy water he gentle wacked me with them on the shoulders back and top of the head bringing me blessings then handed me a card and knotted wrist band that will fall off when the blessing is complete.

Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara (Loha Prasat)

Next door was the temple which was built in 1846 during the reign of King Rama III. Wat Ratchanatdaram is best known for the Loha Prasat (Metal Castle), a 36-meter-tall multi-tiered structure featuring 37 metal spires, signifying the 37 virtues toward enlightenment in Buddhist belief. It is regarded the world’s only brazen palace (a building of which its roof covered by bronze tiles) in existence. 

If you know that there were only 3 temples of this kind and that the two others are no longer existing, than this is a unique temple in the heart of Bangkok.
Unfortunately they are renovating the temple at present and we were not able to entre and it was hard to get better photos but very pleased we were able to see it in person.

Then we walked home.

These central monuments are all along this main road every block and just so beautiful with the peacocks etc.

The Democracy Monument.

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