Rajaworamahavihara ( Wat Chaeng
) is situated on the west, or Thonburi bank of the Chao Phraya River
opposite Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram (Wat Pho). Originally
it was named Wat Makok, and later, Wat Makok Nok, as it was paired
with Wat Makok Nai (Wat Nuan Noradis). It is said that after fighting
his way out Ayutthaya, which was besigned by a Burmese army, King
Taksin arrived at this temple just as down was breaking. He later
had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, the Temple of
the Dawn. During his reign, which is called the Thonburi Period,
WatChaeng was the chief temple, and for time, there were enshrined
the Emerald Buddha and another important Buddha image, the Phra
Bang, both of which had been removed from Vientiane.
During the Bangkok Period, the temple
has been renovated and extended, and it was given its present name
by King Rama IV.
The most prominent structure, which
stands in the front, is the phra prang. This is a Khmer-style chedi
which is 81 meters high. Adjacent to this at each of four cardinal
derection are smaller prang and mondop. All of these structures
are decorated with brightly colored pieces of porcelain. Tourist
often climb the stairs of the prang to gain a panoramic view of
the city and the river. In days gone by when visitors from other
lands arrived by sailing up the river, the prang was the landmark
telling them they had at last arrived in Bangkok.
There is a great deal of interesting
art in the temple. The murals in the phra ubosot were executed by
artists during the reign of King Rama V. Around the phra ubosot
are many Chinese statues as well as statues of elephant, and near
its entrance are the statues of Nai Nok and Nai Reuang, two men
who immolated themselves to attain anlightenment.