Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, older even than the city.
Wat Chiang Man was the first temple to be built in Chiang Mai. It was constructed during the reign of King Mengrai, who lived in the temple while overseeing the construction of Chiang Mai, the capital of the Lanna kingdom.
Wat Chiang Man is reportedly the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and established by the city’s founder, King Mengrai, some 700 years ago. Although an important temple, it is relatively small and is not located on the main tourist routes. It is though impressive and warrants a visit if you have the time. There are a number of small buildings in the temple grounds each displaying typical Northern-style decoration comprising gold leaf on red lacquer and colored mirrors. The name “Chiang Man” means “City Stable” which considering is Chiang Mai had just had to be relocated may be a good name for the new city’s Royal temple.
The temple contains two important famous Lord Buddha statues, which reside in the small sanctuary to the right of the main chapel.
The Phra Sila Buddha image is a bas relief stele, sculpted from stone depicting a standing Buddha. The image was most likely made in Sri Lanka more than a thousand years ago. The highly revered image is believed to hold the power of bringing rain and therefore plays an important role during Songkran festival held in April at the end of the dry season. The Buddhas are also thought to have the power to produce rain.
Phra Sae Tang Khamani, The Crystal Buddha belonged to Queen Chamathewi of Lamphun, wife of King Mengrai. Said to have survived the king’s burning of Haripunchai (of which the queen was the ruler), it is revered for its power to protect against disaster. The images are accessible on an irregular schedule, but usually only on Sundays.
The Chedi Chang Lom, One interesting aspect of the temple is its chedi (pagoda) which has 15 lifesize elephant carvings incorporated into its base. The Standing Buddha statue at the temple is the oldest Lanna kingdom statue known. An inscription dates it to 1465. The podium of the stupa was decorated with 16 elephants, influenced from Sukhothai art style. The stairs decorated with Naka is at the front of the stupa, leading to the arch. The top of the stupa is the golden bell-shaped stupa. There is also the Tripitaka Hall situated in the middle of the pond for storing tripitaka and scriptures according to Lanna style of construction and folk wisdom.
A stone inscription near the door of the ordination hall (bot) is dated 1581. It includes a history of the town and monastery, as well as a list of donors to the temple. It confirms that the temple was founded by King Mengri and that it was restored in 1471, 1558, 1571, and 1581.
Located in the heart of Chiang Mai, Wat Chiang Man consists of two modest-sized meditation halls (wihaan) and an interesting gold-topped chedi along with the usual other temple buildings.
The larger viharn has a beautiful golden facade. The Main Viharn was renovated in 1926 by Khru Ba Srivichai (1878-1938), who accomplished many such works during his lifetime and is considered a Lanna Saint. When we were there the inside of the temple was being festooned for an up-and-coming almsgiving ceremony the following day. The two things that most impressed me were first, the glasswork at the temple, and secondly the elegant murals on the walls. The scenes are described in quite some detail by the writing on them, but it is all in Lanna script, which only a very few people know nowadays.
The smaller viharn is built in Lanna style contains two small, but very old and important Buddha images (Phra Sila Buddha image). The stairs to the viharns entrance are guarded by Nagas, a mythical snake like creature. South of the chedi with a red balcony and raised white base to protect the manuscripts is the temple library or Ho Trai where the wat’s Buddhist scriptures are kept is a fairly small wooden building on top of a white stone base to protect the scriptures from flooding and pests. This Ho Trai is a lot less elaborate than the one at the Wat Phra Singh. Which records the foundation of Chiang Mai on April 12, 1296 at 4:00 am.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The temple complex is open daily from 6 am until 5 pm. Admission is free. (Please dress properly)
How to get to the Wat Chiang Man?
Located in the heart of Chiang Mai, within the old walled city on Ratchaphakhinai Road. It’s easy to walk to this temple for those staying in the old part of town, between Phra Pok Klao 13 road and Ratchaphakhinai 1 road. Entering the old walled part of the city through the Chang Puak gate in the North wall, take a left turn to Ratchaphakhinai 1 road. The temple is then on the right side after about 200 meters. If you interest to use a private tour or budget tour to important temple in Chiang Mai. Please contact us.
Note : Wheelchair user is accessible
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Wat Chiang Man Map