Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple of Chaing Mai, Thailand and is located within the walls of the old city, near the Chang Puak gate. The temple was built in 1296 by King Mengrai of Lanna Kingdom.
Wat Chiang Man is one of the smaller temples that I have visited in Thailand but it is a historic temple in Chiang Mai and is famous for its Lanna-style chedi supported by rows of elephant shaped supports (shown above).
Within the temple walls are the gold topped chedi and several small northern style buildings that are elaborately decorated red lacquer, gold leaf, many colored mirrors and Thai style roofs.
The highlight of the temple is the big stone chedi with stone elephants lined around the base in a defensive circle and topped with a gleaming golden spire.
The carved elephants make for an imposing image and they are in remarkable condition for being over 700 years old and the golden top is a stunning contrast to the natural stone lower half of the chedi.
Main Ordination Hall
Beside the pagoda is the beautifully decorated Lanna style ordination hall (obost) which contains the Buddha image named Phra Kaew Khao. The front of the building is stunning with a gold artwork covering the entire three story front awning and golden dragons line the edge of the roof.
Along the sides of the buildings all of the windows and door are framed with designs that feature golden artwork intermixed with colorful tiles. The stairways into the building is flanked with golden dragons.
Meditation Halls (Viharas)
There are two main meditation halls in Wat Chiang Man, both are similarly decorated to the Main Ordination Hall. The front awning, window and door frames all have golden artwork intermixed with colorful tiles. The roof gable edges are covered with golden dragons and the entry stair banisters are impressive golden dragons.
All of the temples that I have visited in Thailand are filled with decorations that represent the Buddhist faith that the Thai culture and Wat Chiang Man is no exceptions. The photos below are an example of some of the adornments that can be seen in the temple.
I have visited about 15 of Chiang Mai’s over 300 temples (Wats) in my three trips to Chiang Mai and I am amazed at how each temple is distinctly unique and beautiful. The most impressive feature at Wat Chiang Man is the stone elephant based chedi with the contrasting shiny golden topped spire.
The temple was not crowded which was surprising considering it is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and I was there during the Lantern Festival which is a busy time in Chiang Mai.
Wat Chiang Man is not a large temple and it doesn’t take a lot of time to see it but the temple grounds are peaceful and a calming place to visit when many places in the city are buzzing with activity.