Formerly known as Wat Thong ("Gold temple"), Wat Suwan Dararam (also spelled Suwandararam) was founded in the late Ayutthaya period. After King Rama I (r. 1782-1809) had ascended the throne he restored the ubosot (ordination hall) and an "Assembly of Deities" (Thepchumnum) was painted on the upper walls. On the lower part of the walls are murals of scenes from the Buddha's previous lives. These murals were restored during the time of King Rama III (r. 1824-1851). During the reigns of King Rama III and King Rama IV (r. 1851-1868), a viharn (assembly hall) and chedi were added, but construction was not completed until the time of King Rama V (r. 1868-1910), who restored the ubosot, pavilion and monastic cells. King Rama VII (r. 1925-1935) had the walls of the viharn painted with murals of significant historical events, particularly the military expolits of King Naresuan the Great.
The murals in the ubosot are among the best in Thailand, and the ones in the viharn are quite unusual. The ubosot has the boat-shaped lines typical of the late Ayutthaya period, the boat symbolizing a means of reaching nirvana.
The temple is near the river at the southern end of the island and can easily be reached by bicycle.
Updated: January 21, 2011.