By Pakamard Jaichalard
The world-famous Temple of Dawn stupa, known locally as Phra Prang Wat Arun, will be closed for three years starting from next Tuesday to undergo repairs and renovation along with other structures in the temple compound, a deputy abbot said yesterday.
This will be the biggest repair and renovation work on the stupa in the last 14 years. In the past, even while large-scale work was being done, the stupa used to remain open to tourists, said Phra Sakkaya Puttiyawong. The temple is asking the Tourism Authority of Thailand to build a four-metre replica of the stupa for tourists to visit during the three-year closure, he added.
The original tiles covering the 81.85-metre-high stupa, which were set aside during the 1999 renovation, will be used this time. The Department of Fine Arts will carry out the repairs and renovation. They will also carry out an underground exploration of the stupa’s foundation to determine its condition, the monk said.
A new model of scaffolding will be erected along the stupa, which will not touch the monument, and thus avoid causing damage, the monk said. The work will be divided into three phases: in 2013 it will cover the southwest and northwest sides of the Phra Prang stupa and also the smaller stupa on the south and west; in 2014-15, work will cover the southeast and northeast of the Phra Prang stupa, and the smaller stupa on the east and north.
Signs will be erected at the site to warn tourists of possible accidents during the closure. Tourists will be allowed to see the stupa from a distance during the three-year period. The stupa will be closed at the auspicious time of 3pm next Tuesday, after a blessing and opening ceremonies for commencement of the work. Somdej Phra Maha Ratcha Mangkhalajarn, the abbot of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen who is also acting His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch, will preside over both ceremonies.