Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai

Wat Phra Singh (Temple of the Lion Buddha) is an important Buddhist monastery and temple on the west side of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Founded in the 14th century, it houses two medieval Buddha statues.

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History of Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu for the ashes of his faher, King Kham Fu. It may have been the first monastery to house the Emerald Buddha, which later resided in Wat Chedi Luang and is now enshrined in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. The temple is named for the Buddha image it housed in 1367, the Phra Singh (Lion Buddha).

The temple-monastery fell into disrepair as Chiang Mai's population declined in the 18th century, but restoration began in the early 19th century under Chao Kawila. The work continued under his successor, Chao Thammalangka, who commissioned the murals in Viharn Lai Kham.

What to See at Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh is an important temple and a major monastery, housing 700 friendly monks who often approach tourists to practice their English.

The largest building is Viharn Luang (viharn = assembly hall), rebuilt in 1925 on the site of a 14th-century original and extensively restored in 2008. The three-aisled interior is impressive, its high red roof supported by round white columns. It houses Phra Chao Thong Tip, a large image of the seated Buddha cast of gold and copper in 1477.

A smaller assembly hall, the beautiful Viharn Lai Kham (Gilded Hall), was built around 1345 and renovated in the early 19th century. It is considered a fine example of Lanna monastic architecture. Inside is Phra Singh (the Lion Buddha), an original 14th-century treasure except for the head (which was stolen in 1922). The walls are covered in murals (dating from the 1820s) illustrating Jataka tales and other stories. The round pillars and the wall behind the Buddhas are decorated in red-and-gold patterns.

Perpendicular to Viharn Lai Kham is the ubosot, built in 1806. The opulent decoration on its gables include abstract mandala designs. Inside is an ornate ku (Buddha throne).

The little monastic library (1477) has a stone base to protect precious manuscripts from flooding and pest. It is decorated with devata or thewada (Buddhist spirit) figures in high relief. There are also several chedis on the temple grounds, the largest one dating from 1345 and enlarged considerably since.

Quick Facts on Wat Phra Singh

Site Information
Names:Temple of the Lion Buddha · Wat Li Chiang Phra (until 1367) · Wat Phra Singh
Country:Thailand
Categories:monasteries; temples
Dates:1345
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:18.788617° N, 98.981339° E
Address:Samlarn and Ratchadamnoen Roads
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hours:Daily 6am-5pm
Lodging:View hotels near Wat Phra Singh
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Wat Phra Sing, Chiang Mai, Thailand - Asian Historical Architecture
  2. Wat Phra Singh - Frommer's Thailand
  3. Wat Phra Singh - Fodor's Thailand
  4. Wat Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai - Window to Chiang Mai
  5. Wat Phra Singh - Rough Guide to Thailand (accessed 2009)

More Information

© Nick Leonard
© Su Lin
© Houston Marsh
© Kevin Jewell
© Maciej Radoszewski
© Ross Thomson

Map of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai

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