Eventful Temple Boasting Exquisite Lanna Works of Art
(4 km. on Super Highway / see Map of Chiang Mai City)
Wat (temple) Chet Yot or Wat Photharam Mahavihara, a sacred temple of Chiang Mai, is situated on Super Highway (Chiang Mai-Lampang), 4 km from Doi Suthep. It is held prestigious because the eighth revision of the Buddhist Tripitaka took place here in the reign of King Tilokkarat (1442-1487) of the Lanna Kingdom. The king himself was the chairman of that event. In addition to its significance in history, its works of art are among the finest of the Lanna school. To make your visit to the temple more enjoyable, Thaiways presents to you the temple's background and some interesting aspects.
In 1455, King Tilokkarat ordered to construct a temple to be the abode of a revered Buddhist monk named Uttama Panya Thera.
At the first stage of the temple establishment, a Bodhi tree, which is said to be a sapling of the Original Sri Maha Bodhi in Sri Lanka, was planted here to commemorate the Lord Buddha. Walking around it, you will see a lot of wood posts leaning against the Bodhi tree as if to support it. This is a northern tradition done as an auspicious start for the Thai New Year (Songkran Festival, 13-15 April). Besides, as the Bodhi tree is a token of Buddhism, the practice signifies that the lay people unite to support Buddhism. This is believed to be a grand merit.
Replicas of Satta Mahasathan* were built together with the temple, also as religious memorials. King Tilokkarat called the temple Photharam Mahavihara. Photha means a Bodhi tree and mahavihara means a huge monastic hall. However, the locals prefer to call it Wat Chet Yot as the main stupa has seven spires.
When King Tilokkarat died in 1487, King Yot Chiang Rai, his grandson, built a stupa to house his relics. In the reign of King Muang Kaeo (1495-1525), the temple was renovated and an ordination hall was set up.
Afterwards, Wat Chet Yot was deserted for some time. It was not until the early Rattanakosin Period (1782-1851) that King Kawila of Chiang Mai (1796) restored towns and temples including Wat Chet Yot.
Constructions in the Compound
- The Seven-spire Stupa, which is similar to the Mahabodhi Temple or Buddha Gaya, India, shows delicate craftsmanship of its stuccoed bas reliefs in forms of sitting and standing angels. Because of the distinctive style, they became a prototype for works of art of successive ages. You will notice that the attire of each angel is different from that of the rest. Other motifs like flowers and creepers reflect the Chinese influence which was first introduced to Thailand in the form of ceramics around 1260-1368.
- The old ordination hall is in the northeast of the present ordination hall. It was built in 1502 under the command of King Muang Kaeo of the Mangrai Dynasty.
- The stupa housing King Tilokkarat's relics is a large castle-shaped chedi. Each of the four sides of its base has an arch in which a Buddha image was once housed.
*Satta Mahasathan refers to seven sites where the Buddha passed seven successive weeks in meditation after gaining enlightenment. They are: 1.Bodhi Tree 2. Animesha Chedi 3. Ratana Chankramana Chedi 4. Ratanaghara Chedi 5. Ajapala Nigrodha Tree 6. Muchalinda Lake and 7. Raja-yatana Tree. The seven sites are located in the precinct of Mahabodhi Temple (Buddha Gaya), India. At Wat Chet Yot, at present, only three are left, viz. Animesha Chedi, Ratanaghara Chedi and Muchalinda Lake.
For more information, please contact TAT Northern Office Region 1, tel: +66 (0)5324 8604, +66 (0) 5324 8607.
Special thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Northern Office Region 1 for arranging an impressive press tour of Chiang Mai and to Mag Media Co., Ltd. and Forty-Five Organizer & Media Co., Ltd. for facilitating the photographing and giving us useful information.
For taxi : วัดเจ็ดยอด