Wiang Kum Kam
Much of the history of Wiang Kum Kam is estimated due to the lack of specific records. But this is the story that is generally accepted.
It is believed that Phya Mangrai, who was the first King of the Mongrai Dynasty and founder of the Kingdom, built Wiang Kum Kam in 1286. He chose this location by the Ping River with the thought that the river could provide transportation between various villages. It’s thought that the river was actually the cause of several floods.
The whole idea of creating Wiang Kum Kam was that it would serve as a capital for the government. It did serve as the capital, but just 10 years later, in 1296, the capital was moved to the new city Wiang Chiang Mai. Although no longer the capital, Wiang Kum Kam continued to play a role by hosting many special events.
It was only until 1984 that excavations revealed many of the religious monuments that can be seen today.
Here is what can be found, both ancient and new, at Wiang Kum Kam today.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat Chedi Liam
The name Wat Chedi Liam translates to “temple of the square chedi”. Founded in 1288, this remains today as an active temple with resident monks. There is an ancient chedi, a recent viharn and ubosot, while all that remains of the 13th century is a well.
Originally constructed in 1288, the chedi stands on a square base with five tiers. Each tier has 3 niches, each enshrining a standing Buddha image with a yellow robe. The niches on the 2nd and 3rd tiers are decorated with Naga serpents while the other niches have flower motifs.
After the 1908 restoration, a Burmese influence can be seen now.
The Wats viharn, built during the 20th century, has a 2 tiered roof with a Lanna style front gable and Naga serpents guarding the stairway entrance. Inside the walls are decorated with murals and the Wats principle Buddha image is found here.
Also built in the 29th century, the ubosot has a 3 tiered roof with carved wooden bargeboards and large Chofah. There is a very ornate gable decorated in Lanna gold and colors.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat E-Kang
Obviously not an active Wat, this location was excavated by the Department of Fine Arts from 1985 – 86. Estimates date the remains back to the 16th or 17th century. What remains is the foundation of what appears to have been as large viharn with 16 pillars. The remains of the chedi are much easier to see and visualize how it must have looked.
Wiang kum Kam – Wat Kuu Par Dom
Believed to have been built between 1829 and 1838, all that now remain are the bases of the original buildings.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat That Noi
There is no record that this Wat ever existed, because of the architectural style, it is believed that this Wat dates back to the 14th or 15th century. It was named That Noi because of the small size of the chedi (noi means small).
The brick floor shows the sixe of the viharn and the base that would have held the principle Buddha image.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat Nan Chang
Named Nan Chang to honor the ancestors of the original land owner, this Wat was first excavated in 2002 and 2003. The ruins show that there was a chedi, viharn and several other buildings as well as a wall containing all of the Wat.
Wianh Kum Kam – Wat Pupia
Having no name in historical documents, the locals gave it the name Wat Pupia. The architecture indicates it was built in the 16th or 17th century. With an excavation being started in 1985, what you see today is the result of a partial restoration that was done in 1986. The grounds contain a viharn in front of a chedi which has 4 niches for Buddha images. Other buildings include a rite pavilion and an octagonal building with a nearby alter.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat That Kaow
This Wat also appears to date back to the 16th or 17th century. It was excavated in 1985 with its restoration being completed in 1986.
The locals referred to this Wat as the white chedi hinting that the chedi may have once been covered with white lime. A viharn in front of the chedi appears to have been a worship alter.
Behind what was the rite pavilion, parts of a Buddha image were found. Now there is a more resent Buddha image that was donated by the local people.
Wiang Kum Kam – Wat Kan Thome
The original structure dates back to sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries and was excavated in 1984. In 1920 chronicles note that King Mangrai built what is now here, giving it the name Wat Kan Thome or Chang Kham. There is a west facing viharn with a Mandapa connected to it which houses the primary Buddha image. The white chedi stands 12 meters wide and 18 meters high. The lower level has niches containing seated Buddha images while the upper level has niches with standing Buddha images.
As you see, there are other buildings and various Buddha images around the Wat.
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Temples In Chiang Mai and You
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Temples In Chiang Mai – Articles
We have prepared a series of articles and will continue to prepare articles on more of the Buddhist Temples that can be found in Chiang Mai. Those articles will be published as often as they are completed and properly edited, so we encourage you to check back regularly to view our newest additions. We currently have a set of articles to publish which are listed below. To read any of these, just click on the title below.
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Doi Suthep
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chiang Man
Wiang Kum Kam
Many More . . .
Temples In Chiang Mai – Conclusion
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