Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai’s most revered temple. It is named for the city’s holiest Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing.
I read somewhere that Wat Phra Singh is beautiful at night. It is, but it isn’t especially well lit, suggesting to me that night visits are not particularly encouraged.
A monk did tell us that we were welcome to enjoy the temple grounds until 9:00pm, but the temple buildings were closed to the public. We returned on the morning of the day we left Chiang Mai.
Wihan Luang, above and below, is the main assembly hall where monks and laypeople congregate. The current building replaced the original in 1925.
Most of the other temple structures are located behind Wihan Luang, including Wihan Lai Kham, the Phrathatluang chedi, and the bot, shown below.
With a a south entrance for monks and a north entrance for nuns, Wat Phra Singh’s bot is as actually a song sangha ubosot. A bot is an ordination hall, and the most sacred area of many wats.
Regardless of which entrance you use you can access all of the interior of the bot. A structure in the middle displays Buddhas and more on 4 sides.
There are effigies of many venerable monks at Wat Phra Singh, both life-like and metallic, and the bot displays quite a few.
The photo below, from 2008, shows the Phrathatluang chedi before it was covered in gold.
Built in 1345, and enlarged several times, Phrathatluang features the front half of an elephant emerging from each side. There are smaller chedi on 3 sides.
At the back of the compound a small temple has room for little more than a large reclining Buddha.
Between Reclining Buddha Temple and the chedi is a sort of pavilion sheltering Buddha statues in various styles.
The Kulai chedi was built by King Mueangkaeo (1495-1525). When the chedi was restored under King Dharmalanka (1813-1822), a golden box containing ancient relics was found. After the restoration was completed, the box and its contents were returned to the chedi.
Kulai chedi is connected to the back of Wihan Lai Kham by a short tunnel which is not open to the public.
Wihan Lai Kham was built in 1345 to house the Phra Buddha Singh statue.
The Phra Buddha Sihing statue (seen in the 2 pictures below) is said to be based on the lion of Shakya, now lost, which was once located at the Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha reached enlightenment.
It is also said that the head of the statue was stolen in 1922, so the head may be a copy.
Next to the front of Wihan Luang is the Ho Trai, considered one of the most beautiful temple libraries in Thailand.
I’d had a steady regimen of temples since arriving in Thailand, and the pace increased in Chiang Mai. Wat Phra Singh holds its own among the old temples of Chiang Mai’s Old City. It held a special interest for my Thai Buddhist companions.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below.