Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thailand: Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang or the Temple of Lampang's Great Budhha Relic is a Lanna-stlye Buddhist temple in Lampang, Thailand. From Sukhothai, we proceeded by land to Chiang Mai, making a brief stop at this revered temple in Lampang. It's said to be the most beautiful wooden Lanna temple in northern Thailand. We had now crossed into the territory of the old Lanna Kingdom, which was a separate kingdom until 1775.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
When Buddha was cremated, there was a rush to collect bones and ashes as relics which have been venerated for centuries in temples such as this all over Asia. The relic is in the main chedi of the temple. The fortified temple or wiang, built on top of a mound and surrounded by high walls, dates back to 1476 and is said to be the oldest surviving wooden structure in Thailand.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
A very intricate gilded altar or mondop is the highlight of Wihan Phra Put, the main prayer hall or wihan where the image of Phra Chao Lan Ton (Buddha Lan Ton), a bronze statue of the Buddha, is enshrined. There are other wihans, some of them containing traces of the original murals, which means they may also be among the oldest in Thailand.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
At the back is a structure which only men can enter. Close the doors to be able to see a camera obscura image of the wihan and chedi projected upside down on a white cloth. Another camera obscura image can be found in Wihan Nam Tam, the wihan with a three-tiered roof.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang, Thailand
On the way out, you will pass by a sacred Bodhi tree symbolically supported by dozens of wooden poles offered by devotees, a Lanna ritual. Every year, during the Songkran or Thai New Year, the Northern Thais hold the Hae Mai Kam Salee, a ritual of the Bodhi tree's pole. The Bodhi tree represents Buddhism and placing supporting poles beneath the tree's branches signifies the support of the laity.

This temple is about 20 kilometers from Lampang itself. We were rushing from Sukhothai since they closed the temple before 5 p.m. Good thing we made it! After that brief visit, we were off to Chiang Mai for dinner.
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