Every year for the past six I have accompanied my family and my wife’s relatives to this temple on the last day of Songkran (Thai new year). A short ceremony is held in front of our seated group performed, generally by 5 Buddhist monks, to commemorate and remember departed family members whose ashes are interred at the temple. Being Songkran it is the hottest time of year but we sit in the shade of the temple courtyard (below) and such is the design there is usually a cooling draft that prevents complete meltdown. It is very atmospheric and at the end of the ceremony the head monk sprinkles blessed water over the small congregation and wishes us a happy new year. I really have grown to quite enjoy it.
Wat Prayun Wongsawat is located near Memorial Bridge which spans the Chao Phaya in Bangkok. It was built during the reign of Rama III who reigned over Siam from 1824–51. He was the elder brother of King Mongkut (of “The King and I” and Anna Leonowens fame) who ruled after him.
Since ancient times, Thai kings have supported Buddhism and built many temples. That’s why this country has such a great number of them. They are classified into two categories: royal temples and common temples. Royal temples are built or renovated by a king or built by a member of royalty and dedicated to a king. They are divided into first, second and third class temples in a descending order of significance. Wat Prayun Wongsawat is a second class royal temple.
Both the original building and reconstruction are really great engineering works. The problem was that after a century the wooden timber framing supporting the chedi was getting eaten through by boring insects and needed to be replaced. Huge cracks were appearing in the chedi which was in imminent danger of collapse.
It was saved by this timely restoration and the original beams can be seen laid out around the courtyard (as seen in the photo above).
Wat Prayun Wongsawat is seldom visited by non-Thais. In fact I’ve never seen a tourist on my own visits here. Perhaps it is because it is not that easy to get to and well Bangkok has so many glorious and spectacular temples. I do like this one though for its peaceful atmosphere, its simplicity and dazzling white stucco facade. A wonderful part of the Bangkok skyline.