Wat Yang Guang, Chiang Mai – 500 year old temple ruins discovered
Whilst Wat Yang Guang was being renovated in 2017 the remains of a 500 year old temple was discovered including carvings in bas-relief, pedestals for statues and walls.
As reported by City News on 3rd July, 2017 here, the ruins were being excavated by the Thai National Department of Fine Arts and the article mentions that it was probably built during the King Mengrai era and records show the presence of a temple here in 1517. King Mengrai was the founder of Chiang Mai and was the first king of the Lanna Kingdom ruling from 1292 to 1311.
Later the temple was abandoned during the Burmese occupation of Chiang Mai and the City News report goes on to mention,- “In 1796 when King Kawila liberated Lanna kingdom, Tai Khun who immigrated from Kengtung and settled in around that area, rebuilt the temple and named it Yang Guang in remembrance of their hometown Ban Na Yang Guang of Kengtung.”
The old temple
The excavation site is situated at the back of the temple and includes some interesting remains of decorative works and bas-reliefs on the old walls.
The foundations and parts of the walls can also be seen and a large Buddha statue has been installed on the dais.
In September, 2016 during my last visit I photographed the renovation work which included the construction of a new ubosot or assembly hall, pictured above which had not yet been completed.
This building no longer exists having been demolished or dismantled possibly to be erected again in the future. (This prediction was correct – see below). This occurred following the discovery of the ancient remains close by presumably to allow a full investigation of the archaeological site.
The chedi which dates from the 19th century is of octagonal design with chinthe guardians at the entrance to the ambulatory and adorned with gilt chattra at each corner with Deva figures in stucco kneeling in the anjali pose with hands clasped.
The base and mid-section are without ornamentation in whitewash with eight niches on each side containing Buddha images with decorated mouldings. The bell and the neck are also octagonal shaped and the structure is topped by a gilt umbrella finial.
At the time of revisiting the temple in Haiya in September, 2018 there was a celebration going on with people feasting and listening to monks giving instruction in the sala building. The event appeared to be sponsored or supported by a bank and money and other offerings were being made as evidenced by the money trees.
Apart from the modern sala and kuti buildings there is also a pavilion opposite the entrance which houses a large Buddha image and where worshipers can kneel and make offerings.
Wat Yang Guang, Chiang Mai
Address:- Hai Ya, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand. See Map.
Opening times and admittance charge:- 6.00pm to 7.00pm. Entrance is free. No temple massage available.