Floods damage Wat Arun
BANGKOK, 22 December 2011: Floods overflowing the Chao Phraya River for more than a month caused structural damage to walls at Wat Arun Rajwanaram (Temple of the Dawn), the Ministry of Culture reported this week.
Culture Minister, Sukumol Kunplome visited the site Wednesday to inspect the damage after the Fine Arts Department engineers discovered cracks and a wall cave-in just two days ago.
“Cracks of about 1 metre long and 30 cm deep are visible in the ground near the main pagoda, but they do not pose a threat to the ancient structure and repairs should be completed without any complications,” she told local media.
“What is more worrying is the excessive dampness within the pagoda dome, which could lead to the exterior lime plaster peeling off,” the minister noted.
Similar problems were identified at ancient pagodas and temples in Ayutthaya a famous World Heritage destination 70 km up river. Restorations of those sites could take up to a year to complete.
Engineers will rebuild a damaged wall that caved in at Wat Arun and raise underground sewers as well as filling in land that subsided.
“Foundations have been weakened because of the excessive weight of trucks transporting sandbags to the river banks close to the temple site,” the minster noted.
Mold in parts of the pagoda that do not get direct sunlight is also a serious problem for maintenance workers. The temple is plastered with an ancient formula of a lime mixture and this makes renovation a difficult process.
“ It will need Bt5.4 million to fix the wall cave-in and prevent flooding at the temple site,” she said.
A three-metre sandbag barrier has been built around the Wat Arun compound to guard against the Chao Phraya River, which is still high.
Work on restoration and protection of heritage sites has to be speedy. The next rainy season is just five months away and there are fears that there could be a repeat of this year’s tragedy, if officials fail to release water from northern dams early.
Located at Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok on the Thon Buri west bank of Chao Phra River, Wat Arun Rajwararam, originally known as Wat Chaeng, was part of the palace compound during the reign of King Rama I.
The temple was left abandoned for a long period until King Rama II restored it and extended the pagoda to cover 70 metres. The temple initially enshrined the emerald Buddha statue before the revered Buddha image was transferred to Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha Temple) in Bangkok in 1785.