Wat Phan Tao
This is one of the old Wat’s in Chiang Mai believed to have been founded at the end of the 14th century in the center of the old walled city.
The name Wat Phan Tao literally means “temple of a thousand kilns”. This came from the many ovens (kilns) that were used there to create/cast Buddha images used both here and at its immediate neighbor Wat Chedi Luang.
The original viharn (built in 1846) was originally used as a throne hall for the Kings of Chiang Mai. In 1876 this hall was removed and a new viharn was built using many of the wood panels from the old structure. The viharn was set on a stone base and is considered one of the oldest all wooden structures in Chiang Mai. The viharn has a 3 tiered roof with golden Chofah and Naga serpents at the roof ends. Of particular beauty is the viharns front facade. Over the pelmet is a gilded carving of s peacock and crouching dog. Naga serpents and other mythical creatures are also depicted.
The viharns interior has large red teak pillars and long woven banners hanging from the ceiling. Opposite the entrance is the Wats principal Buddha image, a golden seated Buddha.
Other structures at the Wat include a large white chedi, a small bell tower, a Kuti or monks living quarters and a small garden with many bells.
Outside the Wat’s wall are several Singha (Burmese style lion) guarding the temple grounds.
Getting to the Wat is easy. At the center of the old walled city, Wat Phan Tao is right next to the well known Wat Chedi Luang.
Wat Phra Singh
Of the many beautiful and old temples, Wat Phra Singh may well be the most attractive in Chiang Mai.
The temple, also known as The Monastery of the Lion Buddha or The Temple of the Lion Buddha, is a very active temple with hundreds of monks and novices living there.
Wat Phra Singh dates back to the 14th century when Chiang Mai was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and is a great example of Lanna style architecture with many highly revered and old Buddha image.
There are many Lanna style buildings at the Wat, the oldest being the main chedi which was built by King Pha Yu in 1345 to enshrine the ashes of his father. Since it’s construction in the 14th century, it has been considerably enlarged. The chedi is circular in shape with a square base. Each side of the chedi is decorated with elephant figures emerging from the chedi.
One of the best examples of Lanna style architecture is the viharn Lai Kham. This viharn was built during the 14th century to house the highly revered Phra Singh Buddha image. This Wat was originally named Wat Li Chiang Phra until the Phra Singh Buddha imaged was brought here in 1367. The exterior of viharn Lai Khon is decorated in typical Lanna gold and ochre colors. The viharn itself is made from teak wood and a 3 tiered roof, the lower edges are decorated with chofahs and an ornamental decoration resembling the shape of a thin bird.
The viharns interior’s beauty equals that of its exterior. At the back you’ll find the Phra Singh Buddha image with the wall covered with Kai Kham, a red lacquer patterned with gold leaf. The other 3 walls have murals painted in the 1920’s showing popular local stories, scenes from the 19tth century and tales about previous lives of the Buddha.
Vihanr Luang is the largest building in the Wat. While the original viharn was built during the 14th century, it was replaced by the current building in 1925. This viharn houses the highly revered Phra Chao Thong Tip Buddha image. Cast of gold and copper in 1477, this Buddha image is seated in the subduing Mara Mudras posture.
Wat Phra Singhs wooden ubosot was built in 1806. The gables of the bot are highly decorated with wood carvings. Here we find a very elaborate Ku which is a mondop like throne with a Buddha image. At the other end of the bot there is a copy of the Emerald Buddha image – the original is now located in Bangkok.
The Ho Trai is another excellent example of Lanna style architecture and is where the temple library and ancient Buddhist scriptures are kept.
The Ho Trai was built during the 15th century and is an elaborate wooden structure built on a stone base to protect its contents from flooding and insects. The base is decorated with Devata figures (sort of guardian angels) and the wooden top is covered with glass mosaics and gilded lacquer works. Large mythical creatures guard the entrance steps. The Wat area has several other chedis, the Kuti (monks living quarters) and a building containing a reclining Buddha image
Wat Phra Singh is located in the old walled city at the end of Ratchadamnoen Road. There is a modest entrance fee at this Wat.