Chiang Mai, Thailand

Temples

 
 

Other Wats

Inside the Old City Walls

Wat Chiang Man
Rajpakinai Rd.
This is the oldest royal temple in Chiang Mai and presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded in 1296. The temple is famed for its two Buddha images, which according to legend are 1800 and 2500 years old. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.

 
 
 
 
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Wat Chiang Man by Adam Carr

Wat Phra Singh
Corner of Singharaj Rd and Rajdamnern Rd.
Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihaan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922 and a reproduction is now seen.

 Wat Phra Singh by Dennis Jarvis

Wat Chedi Luang
Prapokklao Rd.
Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai is the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally built in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, King Tilo Garaj enlarged the chedi to a height of 86 metres. After the earthquake, the chedi laid in ruins until 1991-92, when it was reconstructed. The temple is a magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.

Outside the Old City Walls

Wat Jet Yod
1 km north of the Huay Kaew Rd/Superhighway intersection.
Originally called Botharam Maha Vihata in honour of the venerated Bodhi tree, Wat Jet Yod was named by the locals after the seven spires (Jet Yod) protruding from the roof of the Vihara. The square sided design of the Virhra is a replica of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals adorning the walls depict angels with a distinct Indian flavour. The grounds also hold abandoned looking eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls that have been overshadowed by a fully intact replica of Chedi Luang, built around 1487 to house the ashes of King Tilokarat.

Wat Umong
Off Suthep Rd.
This is an ancient temple situated in the forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai (1238–1317) built the temple for a highly respected monk who liked to wander in the countryside, hence its isolated location where the monk could stay quietly and meditate. The temple is unusual in that it has tunnel-like chambers in the ground, some of the walls still have the original paintings of birds and animals. There is a large and magnificent stupa with a statue of a fasting emaciated Buddha next to it. You can also take a break by the ponds, where you can feed the fish and turtles.

 
Guide to
Chiang Mai
 
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