Wat Phra Singh “amazing temple in the heart of the old city”
Wat Phra Singh or full name is Wat Phra Singh Worawihan. This is the second most venerated temple in Chiang Mai after Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where is the major Temple for Lan Na art and architecture.
Wat Phra Singh is one of the highlights of Chiang Mai. The grounds and buildings are beautiful and so spiritual, the colors and the decorations are perfectly great. One of the main buildings houses (Viharn Lai Kam) very nice murals.
This temple contains supreme examples of Lanna art. A chedi was first built by King Pha Yu (r.1337-55) to house the bones of his father King Kam Fu (r.1328- 37). The original name of the temple was Wat Li Chiang Phra but this was changed to Wat Phra Singh when the Phra Sihing Buddha image was first housed there in 1367.
Wat Phra Singh was almost certainly abandoned before Kawila re-established it by building the ubosot, and rebuilding the chedi. Chao Thammalangka (r.1813-21) and his
successor, Chao Kham Fan (r. 1821-1825) further added (or rebuilt) the Viharn Lai Kham and the elegant scripture library building. Further renovations were carried out in the 1920’s when Khru Ba Srivichai supervised the construction of the present main viharn and rebuilt the chedi. The ubosot and scripture library were renovated in 1929.
What to See at Wat Phra Singh
Phra Singh Buddha
A good deal of legend surrounds the possible origins of this image with local belief holding that it is some 1,500 years old and was originally brought to Thailand from Sri Lanka. This however would seem unlikely since the it is in the early Chiang Saen Style. The Phra Singh Buddha has been a significant Buddha image of the Thai lanna people for many years. On the day of the Songkran Festival , the Phra Singh Buddha is espectfully mounted on the royal carriage , and travels in a procession around the city of Chiang Mai, so that Chiang Mai people can pay homage in a traditional manner to the image.
The largest building in the wat is the Viharn Luang. The original viharn was built towards the end of the 14th century, but was replaced by the current building in 1925. This impressive viharn houses a very highly revered Buddha image named Phra Chao Thong Tip. This gold and copper image of a seated Buddha was cast in 1477.
The oldest structure of the wat is the main chedi, that was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to enshrine the ashes of his father. The chedi is circular in shape with a square base. Each of the sides of the chedi is decorated with elephant figures emerging from the chedi. Since its construction in the 14th century it has been enlarged considerably.
Viharn Lai Kham
The recently restored Viharn Lai Kham is a classic example of a Lanna style viharn and was built to house the Phra Sihing image enthroned inside. Lai Kham refers to the elegant gold tracery used for decoration. The front of the building is in three tiers. The portico has finely carved gables as well as an ornate stucco sum above the main doors.
On the inner walls of the Viharn Lai Kham are some murals originally commissioned by Chao Thammalangka. These are famous for their period style and the detail depicting earthy northern Thai scenes and the ways of the Burmese Court.
The murals show two fables. Prince Sang Thong of the Golden Conch lies on the north wall and the Heavenly Phoenix takes up the south.
The fables illustrate the long suffering of heroes fighting against the powerful forces of evil before Indra intervenes and allows good to ultimately triumph.
Recent restoration has removed the earlier restoration of the 1920’s to show clearly the original style of the work. Much of the detail has been lost, however.
The north wall shows work done by a Chinese artist whose likeness is found in a small picture at the top in the middle of the wall.
Directly to the east of the main chedi, the wooden ubosot has ornate carvings around its doors and stucco patterns on the wooden pillars. The ubosot, which is usually locked, contains a tower-like shrine known as a mondop. The shape of the shrine was said to be similar to an earlier structure that used to stand in Wat Phra Yeun, Lamphun.
Scripture library Ho Trai
The small scripture repository – ho trai – in the north-east corner is the finest of its type in the north. It sits atop a raised base decorated with stucco Devas. The upper wooden structure is decorated with carvings and stucco and is covered in glass mosaic and gilded lacquer.
How to get to the Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh is located inside the old city wall, at the western end of Ratchadamnoen Road, the temple’s signature Lanna-style roofs and glittering viharn (assembly hall) invite visitors. The walled-in temple compound is busy with visitors and worshippers all year round and is usually packed during the Thai New Year festival (Songkran) in mid-April. From Wat Phra Singh, you might want to go on to Wat Chedi Luang, which is just a short walk away. Another important temple within the walls is the oldest : Wat Chiang Man. It’s another short walk away, near the Chang Puak gate. If you interest to visit important temple in Chiang Mai for half day trip, we are an experience company and we can provide a budget tour or a private tour for your group with good service and comfortable.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The temple complex is open daily from 6 am until 5 pm. Admission is free for Thai people and 20 THB per person for foreigner.
Wat Phra Singh is a must see. If you see one temple in Chiang Mai this should be the one.
Note : Wheelchair user is accessible
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Wat Phra Singh Map