Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wat Chiang Man, the oldest in Chiang Mai

I’ve been to Wat Chiang Man before, back in 2005, but, didn’t realise it was the oldest wat in Chiang Mai at the time (clearly I wasn’t paying attention to our tour guide that day).

The Ubosot ordination (prayer) hall is the first building we (being JJ and I) noticed on entering the temple grounds.
Close by and looking a little like a cubby house is the cute and extremely small, locked, Hoi Trai (temple library).

Some of the fifteen elephants standing around the base of the chedi have sadly been damaged and the attempt to repair them is plain to see...particularly the ears. None the less, it’s lovely, as far as chedis go.
“Enshrined in this temple are Phra Selangamani (Crystal Buddha) and Phar Sila (Marble Buddha). The former is believed to have been made in Lavo (Lopburi) about 1,800 years ago, and the latter in India about 2,500 years ago. Both of this Buddha statues have been in the temple since its founding in the 13th century A.D They date back to the time of the establishment of Chiang Mai City by King Mengrai the great, the first King of the Mengrai Dynasty” – the plaque outside the smaller Wihan (วิหาร/shrine hall), verbatim, including typos. Using the word ‘ago’ only works if you know when the plaque was written :(
One of the ornately decorated Wihan windows
However, the exact ages of the Buddha statues aren’t definite according to Wiki and the likes. Considered to be Chiang Mai’s protective Buddhas (the crystal, against disaster and the marble, to bring rain), they are understandably caged. Finally a not too shabby photo taken inside a wat!
- photo by JJ
The wat was built around 1297 CE and was King Mengrai’s base camp while Chiang Mai, the new capital of Lanna, was being constructed.
 *CE, or common era = AD, same, same but different. Used by countries or those not wishing to refer to Christ.
The interior is lined with bright and colourful murals depicting Buddha’s life journey. Who exactly painted them, I don’t know, but I like them a lot.
Inside the larger Wihan
There were wat dogs a plenty, but these seemed used to strangers wandering around and didn’t give a rats about what any of us tourists were doing and so continued to snooze on the temple lawns. Even more oblivious to our movements were the bug chasing wat kittens and cat that was getting read to curl up, on Buddha’s lap.
There are over 300 temples in and around Chiang Mai, I don’t intend on trying to visit them all, but I do enjoy those that I do.
An amazingly old Frangjipani tree
Wat Chiang Man’s location.

You might also like Wat Mornthean and down the road a bit and What's at Wat Lok Molee.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai