In spite of a brief spell as Thailands capital in the 18th century, Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, today shows little evidence of its past and is largely suburban in character. It does, however, boast a few noteworthy temples.
Most famous of the Thonburi temples, Wat Arun is a Bangkok landmark with its 79m high prang. This finger-like spire is raised on a series of terraces and is decorated with embedded pieces of multicoloured porcelain. A staircase and balconies wind their way around the outside of the tower, affording panoramic views. The temple catches the rays of the early morning sun, hence the popular name, although the building is seen to best effect from the Bangkok side of the river at sunset.
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A little way downstream from Wat Arun, Wat kalayanimit stants out beacuse of its unusually tall sanctuary. The temple compound and monks quarters are substantially unchanged and this, combined with the riverside setting, produces one ot the few spots in the sity where it is possible to picture the Bangkok of old.
A short distance below Wat Kalayanimit, this temple is intriguing for the artificial hill in the compound, dotted with small chedis and frangipani trees, and surrounded by a pool filled with turtles. It was reportedly designed by King Rama III, who once night became fascinated by the shape of the mound of molten wax from his candle.