Wat Phra Singh
The Wat Phra Singh or the Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn is one of the Buddhist temples that can be found in Chiang Mai.
Dominated by a huge mosaic inlaid sanctuary, Chiang Mai Wat Phra Singh is a highly admired and adored temple in the area; the temple prosperity can be easily seen from its luxurious buildings together with its gloriously trimmed grounds which are dotted with various massage pavilions and coffee stands around the area. Pilgrims and tourists usually flock the Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai to adore and idolize the popular image of the Buddha which is commonly known as the Lion Buddha or Phra Singh. The Buddha is securely housed within the Wihan Lai Kham which is a small chapel that can be located right in the southern portion of the chedi to the rear grounds of this Chiang Mai temple.
The elegant and luxurious Buddha is known to have come from Sri Lanka to Thailand; eventually, the idol was enshrined in the chapel which surprisingly has a striking resemblance to it. Just like the Buddha, the chapel is gilded with naga gables and splendid gold patterned stencils found within the area. Additionally, the image of the Phra Singh can also be found at the Wat Phra Singh Chiang Rai.
Despite having a high status and being praised and revered by most, very little is known about the Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai image which actually has more similarities with the images coming from the northern portion of Thailand, compared to the Buddha statues that have come from Sri Lanka. To add more mystery to this, there are two other indistinguishable images in other areas of Thailand; one can be located in Bangkok National Museum while the other can be found in Nakhon Si Thammarat at the Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihaan. But regardless of its origin, this Buddha has become the main focus for various religious festivities and ceremonies during the Songkran Festival.
Location of the Wat Phra Singh
The Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai situates in the west of Chiang Mai’s Old City center that is enclosed within a trench and the metropolis walls. The temples main entrance is being guarded by lions or Singhs at the far end of Rachadamnoen road, Chiang Mais prime street.
Notability and Eminence
The Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai houses a highly valuable Buddha statue which is the Phra Buddha Sihing which provides this temple its name. Although important, the origin and provenance of the statue has yet to be known, yet according to legends, the statue was based on the Shakya lion a statue that had been lost yet was once housed in a temple in India called the Bodh Gaya. The Phra Buddha Sihing should have been transported from Sri Lanka to Nakhon Si, then from there, to Chiang Mai via Ayutthaya which is a city in Chiang Mai.
Every year when the Songkran Festival is celebrated, the Buddha is taken from its spot in the Wihan Lai Kham, then carried throughout the Chiang Mai streets in this religious parade; while it passes through the streets, locals pay their respect and honor the statue by sprinkling the Buddha with just enough amounts of water.
History of the Wat Phra Singh
The development of Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai first began in the year 1345, when the 5th king from that time, commanded that a chedi must be built to protect and store the remaining ashes of the King Kham Fu. When a few years have passed, several buildings, including a wihan were added within the complex, which soon resulted in being named as the Wat Lichiang Phra.
In the year 1367, the Buddha was taken to the Wat Phra Singh, giving the temple complex its present name; during the time of its restorative work in the year of 1925, three urns were found settling in a little chedi and was believed to be the ashes of the royal family. Unfortunately, these urns were eventually lost, and soon after, the Burmese took over Lanna and ruled over from the year 1578 to 1774, leaving and abandoning the Chiang Mai Wat Phra Singh in serious ruins. Yet when King Kawila was seated on the throne in 1782 as the king of Chiang Mai, he instructed that the Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai be restored then later successors continued the restoration process.
Chiang Mai Temples
Aside from the Wat Phra Singh, there are other temples present in the area of Chiang Mai, and if tourists are highly interested in the study of Buddhism, they will learn that Chiang Mai is an excellent place to gain knowledge about its rituals and teachings. A few of the temples offer monk chats where a novice or resident monk fields and answers various inquiries from curious foreigners. Here are some other Chiang Mai temples that tourists should visit and experience.
It is not as grandiose as the Wat Phra Singh, but its ruined yet tall Lanna-fashioned chedi is indeed higher and extremely alluring. The famous Emerald Buddha or Phra Kaew once settled in the temples eastern niche until the year 1475 yet was eventually transferred to the Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
The Wat Phra That, or more commonly referred to as the Doi Suthep, is a Theravada Wat located in the province of Chiang Mai. Doi Suthep is generally the name of the mountain where this temple is located and is also considered to be a very sacred location among the Thai people.
Wat Phan Tao
The Wat Phan Tao is one of those climatic wats that can be found in the Old City of Chiang Mai. This temple that rests in a compound filled with orange flapping flags is a monument to the country teak trade; with its spacious prayer hall that is supported by numerous gigantic teak pillars while being lined with dark teak panels to protect a stunning golden image of a Buddha.