Suan Dok Temple (Flower Garden Temple) is in the west of old Chiang Mai. It just off the airport road. There are dozens and dozens of small white chedi, about three meters (10 feet) to six meters (20 feet) high. These house the ashes of many of the Chiang Mai Royal Family but the largest one, just to the south, is a Buddhist relic chedi.
Suan Dok temple originally lay in a fortified square beyond Chiang Mai walls. Legends tell that King Ku Na invited the venerable Sumana Thera, a very pious monk from Sukhothai to bring the Buddhism of Sri Lanka to Chiang Mai.
The King offered him the royal flower garden (Suan Dok) as a place to build a temple. The temple was established in 1371.
When Sumana Thera was living in Sukhothai, he had a vision which showed him where to find a very holy relic that had long been buried near the city. When the relic was unearthed, miraculous illuminations took place confirming its power. These miracles did not repeat themselves for the King of Sukhothai, who left the relic in the care of the monk.
Thus when King Ku Na invited Sumana Thera to Chiang Mai, the monk brought the holy relic with him. When the relic was about to be enshrined at the temple, he found that the relic had split into two pieces. One of these pieces was kept at Wat Suan Dok , and the other was buried at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.
Attractions in Suan Dok temple
The main viharn was rebuilt in the early 1930’s by Khru Ba Srivichai. A large Buddha image with a hand in the position for holding straw stands back to back with the main seated image. The images took on their present shape under Khru Ba Srivichai.
A smaller viharn to the south contains a seated Buddha image – the Phra Chao Kao Tue – cast by King Muang Kaew in 1504. The Lanna style image stands 4.7 meters tall and is made up of nine pieces. The walls of the viharn are decorated with murals showing the previous lives of the Buddha (the Vessantara Jataka may be seen on the upper level of the north wall).
West of the main viharn numerous chedi contain the remains of the royal family of Chiang Mai. These were collected from different sites in Chiang Mai and placed there at the wish of Princess Dararatsmi in 1909. The compound also contains the northern campus of the Maha Chulalongkorn Buddhist University of the Mahanikai sect. A wall with tall ornamental gates surrounds the compound, and the remains of earthen walls that once surrounded the fortified monastery can still be seen on the opposite side of the road.
Meditation retreat and monk chat
Suan Dok temple, on Suthep Road just outside the Old City, is the most accessible temple with the most convenient courses for the curious. They offer simple overnight experiences beginning on a Tuesday and ending the next day on Wednesday. At the end of each month they also offer a three-day course beginning on a Tuesday as well, and ending on a Thursday. Not only is Wat Suan Dok a lovely, spacious temple conveniently close to the city, it also has a nice atmosphere for westerners due in part to their monk chat program, and the popular vegetarian restaurant located at the back, Pun Pun.
The highlight are Monk chat where 5:00 to 7:00 pm. mon wed and fri you can meet some of the monks and novice monks at the university. You can ask anything about Thai culture or Buddhist ways. So informative in a really relaxed atmosphere. All done on a donation basis. For Meditation, a monk will teach you about buddhism and several different methods of meditation. The retreat is run through this temple, but the retreat center is quite away out of town. The transportation, lodging, meditation teaching, and meals are included. Just do a web search for monkchat.net and you will find the website for the meditation and monkchat sessions through this temple.
Another location for short-term vipassana practice is Wat Umong, a forest temple at the foot of Doi Suthep. There, they offer one to four day retreats. This lovely temple will give a more serene setting to your practice, and is just a bit off the beaten path.
How to get to the Wat Suan Dok
Location: Suthep Road, about 1km east of Suan Dok Gate. You can get there easily by red truck, tuk-tuk or rented bicycle. The other choice, if you need more comfortable or need more information, we can provide private tour with a guide for people who need more information and need a comfortable service to visit this temple and visit other important temples in the city for half day tour.
Entrance fee & opening hours
Suan Dok temple grounds are open from 6:00 am. until 5:00 pm. Admission is free.
Note : Wheelchair user is accessible
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