Window to Chiang Mai Thailand
Mudplaying with Elephants
See location at Google Maps: Wat Suan Dok
This 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.
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.
Wat Suan Dok