Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand

high-definition creative commons photographs from this temple in Chiang Mai City, Thailand, showing the architecture, statues, murals and decoration work, together with a video, a plan and further information.

Video of Wat Phra Singh Photos with Music


Buildings (32)     Murals (20)


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The Buildings

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The Murals


Map of Wat Phra Singh by Heinrich Damm
Map of Wat Phra Singh by Heinrich Damm

Construction on Wat Phra Singh began in 1345 when King Phayu, the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, had a Chedi built to house the ashes of his father King Kham Fu. A Viharn and several other buildings were added a few years later and the resulting complex was named Wat Li Chiang . When, in 1367, the statue of Phra Buddha Singh was brought to the temple, the temple complex received its present name.

From 1578 to 1774 the Burmese ruled Lanna and in this period the temple was abandoned and fell into serious disrepair. It was only when King Kawila assumed the throne as King of Chiang Mai in 1782, that the temple was restored. King Kawila had the Ubosot built and the Chedi enlarged. Later successors restored the Viharn Lai Kham and the elegant Scripture Hall.

The whole temple complex underwent extensive renovations under the famous monk Khru Ba Srivichai during the 1920s, when three funerary urns were discovered inside a small Chedi. It was assumed that these contained the ashes of King Kham Fu, but they later disappeared.

The Viharn Lai Kham is the main attraction of the complex. The carraige that was carrying a famous Buddha Statue, the Phra Singh, broke down on this spot as it was being taken to the King, this was taken as a sign and the Temple was built on the same spot. It is a good example of classical Lanna architecture. The murals inside the Viharn, which date from the mid-19th century are also remarkable. The murals illustrate two non-Canonical Jataka Stories, one of Songthong and the other Suwanna Hongse, but they also depict the life of the people around the time they were painted.

The Scripture Hall (Ho Trai) is another striking example of classical Lanna architecture and it is one of the most beautiful Scripture Halls found in Thailand. It was built in the reign of King Muang Kæw around 1497. The lower walls of the building are brick-built and have many stucco Thewadas and mythological creatures. There are guards, flanking the stairs, which consist of lions emerging from the mouths of a Makara, a mythical water creature, which is a combination rarely seen elsewhere. The upper building is made of wood, and is roofed with earthernware tiles. Unfortunately the building itself was closed when we were there, so we were unable to gain access to the inside.

The Ubosot was built in 1806, and contains two entrances: a southern entrance for the monks and a northern one entrance for nuns. It is as such a dual Sangha Ubosot. The building houses a mondop with the Phra Chao Thong Thip Buddha statue (dating from 1477), a smaller version of the Phra Buddha Sihing and it is therefore also known as Phra Singha Noi. At the northern end of the building, near the entrance for the nuns, there is a copy of the Emerald Buddha.

Text adapted from the Wikipedia article
Wiang Kum Kam (retrieved, July 14th 2011)
and signboards inside the temple


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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