Wat Suan Dok
The name Wat Suan Dok literally means flower garden temple. It got this name because the area the Wat now occupies was originally a Royal flower garden for the ruler of Chiang Mai.
There was a monk from the Sukhothai area that discovered a relic that was believed to be the shoulder bone of The Buddha. The ruler of the Lanna Kingdom, King Kuene, invited the monk to Chiang Mai and during the second half of the 14th century had the Wat constructed as a place to enshrine the relic. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, the relic magically split into 2 pieces, one piece the original size and the other piece was smaller. The smaller piece is the one now enshrined at this Wat. The King ordered that the larger piece was to be put on the back of a white elephant and be set free to roam where it wanted. The elephant eventually climbed Doi Suthep mountain where it trumpeted 3 times and then died. In the year 1383, Wat Doi Suthep was constructed.
Wat Suan Dok is located in the west part of the old walled town and is easily known for its large number of chedis. The tallest, golden chedi standing 48 meters is where the Buddha relic is contained. Many of the smaller white chedis contain the ashes from several generations of the Chiang Mai Royal Family.
The Wats viharn and ubosot are unusually large and were rebuilt in the 1930’s by a famous monk who is responsible for renovating several Chiang Mai temples.
The viharn contains several Buddha images including a large standing Buddha holding a bundle of straw and also a sitting Buddha.
The ubosot contains a bronze seated Buddha statue measuring almost 5 meters high that was cast in 1504. The walls are decorated with painted murals with scenes from stories of the Buddha’s previous lives.
Within the temple grounds is a Chiang Mai university. From the university, large heavily decorated gates grant access to the temple grounds. The university also hosts both a monk chat and meditation retreat.
To get to Wat Suan Dok, from the west end of the old walled city center, just go west about 1 km on Suthep Road.