Tag Archives: Thai Buddhist temple

Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai’s most revered temple

Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai’s most revered temple.  It is named for the city’s holiest Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing.

Wihan Luang
Wihan Luang

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.

Front entrance to Wihan Luang
Front entrance to Wihan Luang

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.

Back of Wihan Luang
Back of Wihan Luang

Wihan Luang, above and below, is the main assembly hall where monks and laypeople congregate. The current building replaced the original in 1925.

Inside Wihan Luang
Inside Wihan Luang

Most of the other temple structures are located behind Wihan Luang, including Wihan Lai Kham, the Phrathatluang chedi, and the bot, shown below.

Wihan Lai Kham, the Phrathatluang chedi, and the bot
Wihan Lai Kham, the Phrathatluang chedi, and the bot

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.

Inside the bot
Inside the bot

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.

Inside the bot
Inside the bot

There are effigies of many venerable monks at Wat Phra Singh, both life-like and metallic, and the bot displays quite a few.

Inside the bot
Inside the bot

The photo below, from 2008, shows the Phrathatluang chedi before it was covered in gold.

The bot as photographed in 2008, from Wikimedia Commons
The bot as photographed in 2008, from Wikimedia Commons

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.

The Phrathatluang chedi and smaller chedi
The Phrathatluang chedi and smaller chedi

At the back of the compound a small temple has room for little more than a large reclining Buddha.

Reclining Buddha Temple
Reclining Buddha Temple
Reclining Buddha
Reclining Buddha

Between Reclining Buddha Temple and the chedi is a sort of pavilion sheltering Buddha statues in various styles.

Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh

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
Kulai 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.

Wihan Lai Kham
Wihan Lai Kham

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.

Inside Wihan Lai Kham
Inside Wihan Lai Kham

Wat Phra Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat and the Bangkok National Museum both claim to house the real Phra Buddha Sihing statue.

It is also said that the head of the statue was stolen in 1922, so the head may be a copy.

The Phra Buddha Singh statue (center)
The Phra Buddha Singh statue (center)

Next to the front of Wihan Luang is the Ho Trai, considered one of the most beautiful temple libraries in Thailand.

The Ho Trai, or temple library
The Ho Trai, or temple library
Ho Trai (temple library)
Ho Trai (temple library) – from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Monks approaching Wihan Lai Kham
Monks approaching Wihan Lai Kham

Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below.

Forest master Luang Ta Maha Bua’s Wat Pa Ban Tat

Wat Pa Ban Tat is a Theravada Buddhist monastery in the Udon Thani Province of Thailand.

Wat Pa Ban Tat
Wat Pa Ban Tat

Wat Pa Ban Tat was established by the famous Thai meditation bhikkhu Luang Ta Maha Bua.

Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua
Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua

Bua is one of the best known Thai Buddhist monks of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He was widely regarded as an Arahant — a living Buddhist saint. He was a disciple of the esteemed forest master Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta, and was himself considered a master in the Thai Forest Tradition. Following the death of Ajahn Thate in 1994, he was considered to be the Ajahn Yai, or the head of the Thai Forest Tradition lineage until his death in 2011. – Wikipedia

Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua
Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua

The first building we visited was a sort of shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua, shown above and below.

Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua
Shrine to Luang Ta Maha Bua

This structure reminds me of the way many Thai houses are build on stilts to provide a shady space beneath for people to work and rest in the heat of the day.

Kitchens are often set up beneath houses. The one below is its own roofed but open space. The monks of Wat Pa Ban Tat live nearby.

Monks' kitchen
Monks’ kitchen

The dwelling structures themselves – called kutis – are single units scattered throughout the dense forest. They stand fairly far apart and are separated from each other by strips of forest dense enough so that the inhabitants can’t see one another. The whole area is tranquil and quiet… A monk will stay alone at his kuti without interactions with others. He spends all his time concentrating on his own practice – exerting himself in the practice of sitting and walking meditation in the area of his own kuti as if he were the only person around. He doesn‘t stop to chat with others, but follows in full detail the methods and forest practices taught by the Lord Buddha. – Wikipedia

Blonde Thai squirrel
Blonde Thai squirrel

Walking from Bua’s shrine to his temple we encountered many of Thailand’s blonde squirrels. We saw these in many wooded areas in the north. We saw no other type of squirrel, although I believe there are many.

We also met this cool old tortoise.

Thai tortoise
Thai tortoise

Printed banners that line the fences of the temple complex tell of the donations that Bua collected from around the world to help the people of Thailand. His temple is very nice, but very simple and modest compared to many.

Wat Pa Ban Tat
Wat Pa Ban Tat

There are no Phaya Naga, Phra Mae Thorani, Garuda, or any other figure besides the Buddha, and pictures of Luang Ta Maha Bua.

Wat Pa Ban Tat
Wat Pa Ban Tat

The temple is a large roof over a cool tile floor, open on the sides.

Wat Pa Ban Tat
Wat Pa Ban Tat

Below is a model of a future addition to the temple complex.

Plans for the future
Plans for the future

Early in my visit to Thailand I was given a pendant with a likeness of Luang Ta Maha Bua. I wore it during most of my time there. Every Thai person I spoke with about him was in complete agreement that Bua was a very good monk.

Luang Ta Maha Bua pendant
Luang Ta Maha Bua pendant

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.

Thailand in New Zealand

I haven’t yet traveled much in Asia, but from my first days in New Zealand I’ve enjoyed the large amount of authentic Asian culture in New Zealand.  In 2016 I was lucky enough to experience Thailand in New Zealand.

Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland
Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland

The first Thai Buddhist temple I ever visited was Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland.  Neither visit was during regular hours for services, so it was quiet and nearly empty.

Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland
Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland

I haven’t been to Thailand, but I enjoy the ways that New Zealand meets Thailand in the temples here.  Watyarnprateep Temple was once a typical New Zealand farm house.  Even more New Zealand are the caravans that serve as housing for some of the monks.  Note the Buddhas on top of the caravan below.

Caravan at Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland
Caravan at Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland

The Thai style looks great in the New Zealand landscape.

Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland
Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland

I have only Google for reference, but here are some pictures of Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple near Udon Thani province in Thailand.

Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple near Udon Thani province in Thailand
Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple near Udon Thani province in Thailand

These pictures are from the Udan Thani Attractions website.

Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple near Udon Thani province in Thailand
Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple near Udon Thani province in Thailand

On 13 October 2016 the King of Thailand died at 88 after a reign of 70 years, 126 days.

Memorial to King Bhumibol at Watyarnprateep Temple
Memorial to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Watyarnprateep Temple

The lèse-majesté law makes it illegal to it criticize the king (or queen, heir-apparent, or regent).  But many Thai people seem to have sincerely loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  There was an official mourning period of 30 days before the new king was crowned.

At the end of October I experienced observances of respect and mourning for the late king at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hawkes Bay.

Memorial to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery
Memorial to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery

When I arrived most people seemed to be involved in making sure everyone was fed.  Every Thai restaurant in the area seemed to be serving food to anyone who was hungry, and other people brought dishes to share.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings

We dressed in black, but everyone was happy, friendly, and very welcoming.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is located on a plot of former farmland among fields still being cultivated.  In the picture below a monk walks along the driveway with young apple trees in the background.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings

Some of the monks live in buildings identical to cabins found at many New Zealand campgrounds.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings

The temple is in the living room of a former farmhouse.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings

People lined up with bowls of rice and spooned it into the bowls of the monks as they walked past.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Hastings

There was a procession in honor of the deceased king.

Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery

The procession included a couple of different kinds of money tree.

Money tree
Money tree
Procession with money tree
Procession with money tree

Many mourners purchased gifts for the king in the form of clothes given in his name to the monks.

Mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Like Watyarnprateep Temple in Auckland, Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is fairly modest, but has some beautiful features.

Buddha at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery
Buddha at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery

On November 15 Thai people gathered in Aotea Square near the Auckland Town Hall, and said their final goodbyes to their king.

Mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Aotea Square
Mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Aotea Square

His son King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of 1 December 2016.  His reputation is very different from that of his father, and the people of Thailand wait to see what the future will hold for their country.

Thai people and their culture are, for me, another interesting and welcome addition to the overall culture of New Zealand.

You can view the full gallery of 24 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.