Temples in Nan
Nan’s Wat Phumin has an unusual cruciform ubosot, built in 1596.
Inside there are four Buddha figures in bhūmisparśa mudrā. This posture reflects the moments after the Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment when he was challeged by Māra (the leader of a horde of demons) to prove that he had indeed achieved enlightenment and found a way to end all suffering. The Lord Buddha touched the earth, proclaiming that the earth was his witness.
The inner walls of the temple are covered with vibrant murals painted by Thai Lü (an ethnic group, originally from Yunan in China) artists in the 19th century. They’re a wonderful reflection on life in those days.
Nearby there’s a strange domed building.
I was a little surprised by what I found inside.
Hell on earth.
Wat Phra That Chang Kham
Nearby is Wat Phra That Chang Kham. (“Phra That” indicates that the temple houses a relic of the Lord Buddha.) It’s unknown when this temple was founded, but the vihara was rebuilt in 1458 CE. The gilded chedi dates from the 14th century.
And has elephant supporters.
Inside the temple there’s a massive figure of the Lord Buddha.
The walls have some faded murals. It’s said that the abbot ordered the murals to be whitewashed over because they were distracting the congregation from his sermons. Now they’re slowly being restored.
There were many novices hanging around in its grounds, some sweeping the paths, some buying shaved ice desserts, some just talking. Here are two playing a board game.
Wat Suam Tam
This temple, dating from 1456, has an interesting 40 m high chedi dating from the 1600s. It’s clearly influenced by Khmer architecture, though also has strong Sukhothai influences.
The vihara is absolutely ravishing in red and gold.
Wat Hua Khuang
This minor temple has a beautiful wooden mondop (library), though it’s now used as a kuti (monk’s residence).
Wat Phra That Chae Haeng
A couple of kilometres outside town is Nan’s most sacred temple, Wat Phra That Chae Haeng. The walk there’s pleasant enough, on a road through rice fields that gradually rises as it approaches the temple, which is situated atop a small hill.
Originally this wasn’t a temple, but was rather a chedi built in 1355 to house sacred Buddha relics.
The interior of the newer temple is, however, most impressive.