There are many temples around Thailand that are very historic and some are of greater importance than others. A day out with Ace’s mother suggested a visit to this gracious old temple – its also a temple of my birth sign – the ox.
About 60 kilometers from our residence in Chiang Mai over a large range of hills and nice mountain scenery and 18 kilometers from Lampang you head toward the district of Kao Kha. When you first glimpse the walled Wat situated on a man-made mound of earth it has a protected fort appearance.
I am told that’s because the temple was built on the site of an eighth century fortification that protected the routes to Lampang many years ago. As you climb the staircase to enter the grounds you will pass a pair of guardian lions on the way to the main gate.
As you step inside the main entrance you are confronted with the main hall or prayer area that is open on all sides. Large wooden columns hold up the structure and are finished in black lacquer and stenciled with gold leaf designs.
Strolling the grounds I found some historic information on a display that suggests the temple buildings you see today were built in the fifteenth century but some say it was build even earlier. Apparently a reason for the temple’s popularity is the preserved state of all the buildings. Unlike most of the temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang hasn’t been improved to modern temple designs.
The open and relaxed grounds are still filled with sand and the main prayer hall is open all around. Sitting quietly on the floor today a lovely cooler breeze was waffting through the pillars while the 30 degree sun blazzed on the outside. At the back of the prayer area is a small pagoda sheltering the main Buddha image that was cast in 1563. Behind the main prayer hall stands the chedi of 45 meter hight (or sometimes called a pagoda) that was faced with copper and bronze sheets, which over the centuries have oxidized into a variety of green and blue shades. The chedi has somehow escaped the gold coloured gilding that is often used on pagodas in Thailand.
Beside the chedi on the south side is a small chapel that was apparently built in 1802 with a wonderfully carved exterior. Behind it is a tiny tower structure that houses a Buddha footprint sculpture. The building is usually open on important festival dates, and may never be entered by women.