Wat Mahawan, Chiang Mai

Wat Mahawan is a medium size wat (temple) that originates from at least the 17th century when Chiang Mai came under Burmese occupation. The buildings that make up this temple are an interesting mixture of both Lanna Thai and Burmese styles.

The viharn (sermon hall) and bot (ordination hall) on the east are constructed in the Lanna style, while the chedi (stupa housing the relics of the Buddha), ho trai (scripture library) and unusual square viharn on the west are distinctly Burmese.The Lanna viharn was built in 1865 and renovated in 1957 with bright modern wall paintings. The Burmese chedi has  elaborate detailed stucco relief work and is surrounded by large chinthe (mythical lion guardians). Chinthes also stand guard in front of the Viharn and main entrance gates.  The  teak ho trai (scripture library) is now a monks’ residence (kuti), and the viharn on the west houses a large Burmese style Buddha and exhibits lively stucco relief work.

The painted panels of the Viharn depict scenes from the Vessantara Jataka on the north wall and Buddha meditating as he gained enlightenment on the south wall.  Paintings on the wall behind the main Buddha image show a typical Bhodi tree with an idyllic scene from Chiang Mai’s northern hills.

The temple is located on the south side of Tapae Road just outside the walled city. Like most temples in Thailand, it is free to go in.

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