Tag Archives: Wihan Lai Kham

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.