Jed Yod Temple is an old temple in Chiang Mai with some very unique architecture.
Officially known as Wat Photharam Maha Vihara. Jed Yod temple is one of the ancient temples in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jet Yod Temple translates to “seven peaks temple” and refers to the seven chedis which top a structure in the temple complex. It’s a very unusual – for Thailand – temple building.
That’s because it’s a copy, sort of, of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in India. The chedi was built during the reign of King Tilokkarat in the late 15th century and in 1477 the World Sangkayana convened here to revise the doctrines of the Buddha. The First Buddhist council was held not long after the Buddha passed away. The meeting was comprised of 499 enlightened Arhat monks plus the monk Ananda, who had served as the Buddha’s personal attendant for many years. Although he had not yet attained Arhatship before the council began, Ananda was invited to attend because of his incredible power of memory and close proximity to the Buddha for so many years. Ananda could recall every teaching of the Buddha verbatim, making his inclusion at the meeting necessary.
The unusual design of the main rectangular chedi with seven peaks was copied from the Maha Bodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha first achieved enlightenment. The temple also has architectural elements reflecting Burmese and early Chinese influences supposed to date back to the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Of more interest is the exterior, on which several sculpted figures survive. The extraordinary proportions, the angelic, levitating devata figures carved into the base of the chedi, and the juxtaposition of the other buildings make Wat Jed Yod a masterpiece. Whilst many parts are missing, you can still see some finely detailed figures. The whole is unusually asymmetrical, with the figures on one side seated, while those on the other are standing.
Several other interesting chedis dot the grounds of this rather large temple. An empty platform is directly in front of the entrance to the “cave.”
Inside the viharn is a large seated Buddha on a pedestal with a somewhat smaller Buddha image in front of it placed opposite the entrance. One of the sides of the viharn contains a tunnel like structure where a large sitting Buddha image is enshrined. Next to the viharn are two large gongs and a number of bells. Behind the viharn is the more modern ubosot or ordination hall.
There are three chedis or pagodas on the temple grounds. The largest chedi named the Phra Chedi has a square shape with niches on all four sides and a tall spire on top. It was built in 1487 to enshrine the ashes of King Tilokkarat. This Lanna style chedi also contains the Phra Kan Janthra Buddha image. Another chedi, set on a brick base has collapsed. The third chedi, with an octagonal shape and multiple levels containing niches, is set on a square brick base. The top of the structure is missing.
Directly behind are two more chedi (right). One of them, presumably the larger, contains the remains of the king who built the temple.
Further on is another chedi, in front of which is a very large ancient platform, which now has a small, obviously modern building on it. In the picture at left you can also see some of the many large trees which shade much of the temple grounds.
The second viharn of the Jed Yod temple is a very elegant typical Lanna style viharn with a three tiered roof and ornately decorated facade. Naga snakes on either side of the stairs are guarding the entrance. A large Bodhi tree on the grounds that is said to have been planted by King Tilokkarat himself is a descendant of the tree under which the Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment.
Another unusual highlight of Jed Yod temple is many small statues of snakes, which have been left their as offerings, especially at the shrine on the back side of the viharn under the shade of the Bodhi tree. In Lanna tradition, there is a temple associated with every Zodiac sign (Lanna version of Asian zodiac signs), and this temple is associated with those born in the year of the Snake zodiac sign.
Unlike many of Chiang Mai’s other large temples, Wat Jed Yod is seldom visited by tourists. It’s an interesting and quiet place to spend some time away from the crowds that you’ll find in most other places in Chiang Mai.
Note: The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India is one of the most important of all sacred places for Buddhists. The second site in the Heart of Buddha Pilgrimage Way, it commemorates the attaining of Enlightenment by Siddhartha Gautama. The Pilgrimage Way starts in Lumbini, Nepal, where Prince Siddhartha was born. Bodhgaya is followed by the Deer Park in Sarnath where Buddha preached his first sermon and the pilgrimage ends in Kusinagara where Buddha reached paranirvana, or going beyond nirvana. Of all these places though, Bodhgaya surpasses in importance as the birthplace of Buddhism. It was here that Siddhartha denounced asceticism and realizes the “Middle Way”, which became the center of his teaching.
Wat Jed Yod is located on the highway which rings Chiang Mai, not far from where it intersects Huay Kaew road. It is also very near (within walking distance) of the Chiang Mai National Museum. To get there, take a red truck (public transport in Chiang Mai), tuk tuk or drive there yourself on a rented bicycle. For those who want extra comfortable or need more info, we can provide private tour with a guide for your group to go to this temple and visit other necessary temples in the city for half day tour.
Entrance fee & opening hours : The temple grounds are open daily from 6 am until 6 pm. Admission is free, although donations are highly appreciated.
Note : Wheelchair user is accessible
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Jed Yod Temple Map