The temples of Lampang in Thailand are just an hour or so from Chiang Mai. Lampang has plenty to offer for travelers seeking to wander off the oft-beaten paths of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The city is third largest in northern Thailand, yet trails far behind its larger sister towns in terms of commercialization and development.
I had booked on a private tour with TourChoice.com to explore the so-called “Horse Carriage City”, so named for its unique mode of public transportation. After an enlightening morning at the Lampang Elephant Conservation Center (read about that here), the rest of our customized day trip was spent exploring the city’s temples.
A unique mode of transportation around Lampang.
A common reaction to visiting more than one temple is, “You see one, you’ve seen them all,” but I beg to differ. Every temple has its own historical context and cultural significance. Look past the gleaming temple roofs and the sky-soaring pagodas, scratch beneath the surface with a little more information (credit due to our Tiger Trail tour guide), and visitors will soon find each temple has their own nuances.
The three temples included in our tour – Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Wat Sri Rong Muang, and Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Sucha Daram – each had a different story to tell.
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
Naga-flanked entrance to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, one of the city’s main cultural attractions.
Main prayer hall of the Lanna-styled temple, estimated at least 700 years old in age.
19th century murals that adorn the main prayer hall.
(left) The temple’s chedi which is believed to enshrine a relic of Buddha; (right) an inverted reflection of the pagoda discovered over 15 years ago which shines through a hole in the wall.
(right) The House of the Emerald Buddha; (left) adjacent museum showcasing Buddhist artifacts, old coins and banknotes (left).
Wat Sri Rong Muang
Of the 30-plus Burmese-style temples in Thailand, nine of them are located in Lampang, including Wat Sri Rong Muang, formerly known as Wat Tha Kha Noi Phama.
The temple opened in the year 1912 following 7 years of construction; Wat Sri Rong Muang was built by Burmese settlers employed by the British teak logging industry. A small pagoda next to the big chedi contains the relics of the former abbot of the temple and secretary-general of the Burmese Monk Circle of Thailand.
(left) The teak temple is known for its ornate gold and colored glass inlays in the columns; (right) The teak Buddha in the sermon hall is reportedly the largest of its kind in the world.
The ceilings are decorated with colored glass-imbedded carvings of animals, flowers, and angels.
A commemorative picture of King Rama VII which records a 1932 donation (of THB18,187) towards the building of the temple hall and repair of the monks’ quarters.
Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Sucha Daram
Legend has it that the Emerald Buddha now housed in Wat Phra That Lampang Luang was first discovered by the abbot of this temple hidden inside a watermelon; it was kept at Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao for 32 years before it was moved. The chedi is believed to enshrine a strand of Buddha’s hair.
The temple complex is home to several prayer halls, as well as Buddhist murals and images.
Statue of Chao Po Thip Chang, a Lampang hero and famed marksman who led an uprising to liberate Lanna from the Burmese in the 18th century.
An on-site museum (unfortunately closed on the day of our visit) holds religious images, some over 1,000 years old, as well as several antique items depicting Lanna’s history.
Heritage-listed ruins of an ancient pagoda of Wat Larmchang; the square foundation held up a round pagoda, which is where the former ruler of the region was said to tie up his elephant when he came to worship at the temple.
The historic and ancient temples of Lampang are part of a 2D/1N
trip offered by TourChoice
For more info and booking, click HERE.