Wat Phra Singh
Visit the Royal temple of the first grade, Wat Phra Singh
The History of Wat Phra Singh
The Wat Phra Singh was built in 1345 for the ashes of King Kham Fu, the former leader of the Mangrai dynasty. Then, the temple was expanded with some other buildings and was named Wat Lichiang Phra. The temple got its present name in 1367 when the statue of Phra Buddha Singh was brought to the temple. However, when the area was ruled by Lanna from 1578 to 1774, the temple was abandoned and was gone beyond repair. The temple was restored in 1782 when Chiang Mai was ruled by King Kawila. In the 1920s, the temple also went under extensive renovations by the famous monk Khru Ba Srivichai. The last restoration of the temple was done in 2002. Now, the temple has many sights to be seen by the visitor.
The Main Chedi
The main chedi, or stupa, in Wat Phra Singh is the oldest structure built in 1345 by King Pha Yu. The chedi has a circular shape with a square base. You can see elephant figures decorated each side of the chedi. This chedi has been enlarged compared to its original size. Another chedi in the area is the Kulai Chedi that has five tiered roofs and was built by King Muangkaeo. Inside this chedi are ancient relics stored in a golden box. However, the Kulai Chedi is not opened for the visitor.
Viharn Lai Kham
Viharn Lai Kham is the main attraction of Wat Phra Singh that is considered as one of the best examples of Lanna style architecture. The viharn is the house of the Buddha Phra Singh statue that is believed to be originated from Sri Lanka, though some also believe it was coming from Chiang Mai. The exterior of Viharn Lai Kham is decorated with gold and ochre colors, while the building itself was made from teak wood with three-tiered roof line. On the lower edges are decorated with chofahs, an ornamental decoration that resembles the shape of a very thin bird.
The Interior of Viharn Lai Kham
The interior of Viharn Lai Kham is definitely beautiful and not losing to its exterior. Once you entered, you will see the Phra Singh Buddha in the center. On the wall behind is a very detailed, intricate Lai Kham, a red lacquer patterned with gold leaf. Meanwhile, on the other three walls of the Viharn Lai Kham are mural paintings created in the 1820s. Some murals tell stories of the daily life in the 19th century and popular folklore, while the others show the scenes from the story of Jataka, a popular tale from India about the previous life of Buddha.
Even though it is not the main attraction of Wat Phra Singh, the Viharn Luang is the largest building in the area. The building that stands there nowadays is a replacement that was built in 1925, while the original viharn was built at the end of 14th century. In this viharn is a statue of a very highly revered Buddha image named Phra Chao Thong Tip made in gold and copper. The statue is displaying the subduing Mara mudra and was placed in the viharn in 1477.
Ubosot is a special place for the monks because this is where they got ordained. The Ubosot was built in 1806 by King Kawila with two entrances. The south entrance is used by the monk, while the north entrance is used by the nuns. The bot is decorated with wood carvings and houses a mondop with the Phrachaotongtip Buddha statue, a smaller version of the Phra Buddha Singh. This is why the Ubosot is also known as Phrasingha noi. While on the northern side is a copy of the famous Emerald Buddha, which the original is located in the Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
Last but not least is the Ho Trai, the library of the temple that was also built with the classical Lanna architecture style and considered as one of the most beautiful temple libraries in the country. The library was built towards the end of the 15th century from wood on a high stone base to protect the manuscripts from flooding and pests. The library is decorated with carvings of Devata figures on the base, while on the top, it is covered with glass mosaics and gilded lacquer works. On the stairs on the entrance to Ho Trai are large mythical water creatures called Makara.
How to Get Tickets?
The area of Wat Phra Singh can be entered for free. However, a ticket is needed if you want to go into the main viharn. The ticket can be bought on site.
How To Get Around?
To get around, you will have to go by foot, which is the perfect way to enjoy the detail of the ornaments on each building and take some photos.
What Should I Wear?
Because the Wat Phra Singh is a temple, it is better to dress properly but comfortably since the weather can be pretty hot.
Best Time to Visit
If you want to avoid the crowd, then the best time to visit Wat Phra Singh is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is also better to go on a sunny day on the weekdays.
Will I Need a Guide?
You can explore the Wat Phra Singh without a guide. If you want to ask for any information, you can try to ask the monks that live inside the Wat Phra Singh.
How To Get There?
There are several options available to get to Wat Phra Singh. The easiest way is by car. The temple is located at the westernmost end of Ratchadamnoen Road.