Wat Phra That Chae Haeng
- Last Updated on 18 December 2012
- By Koustabh 'AKASH' Dolui
Wat Phra That Chae Haeng
If you are a seeker of the divine, and believe in exploring the rites, practices and places of worship of different religions across the globe, then Thailand is one destination you should not miss. One of the most important nations in South East Asia, as well as one of the most naturally beautiful, it is dotted with ancient wats, or temples, belonging to the Buddhists – for Buddhism is still one of the prominent religions of the country. And among these temples, one of the most venerated is certainly the Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, an ancient Buddhist temple located in Northern Thailand, in the Nan province. Read on to find out how you will reach Nan, as well as to know more about this famous temple.
From Bangkok to Nan
The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is well connected by air as well as sea; you have a wide variety of airlines to choose from which land at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, or you can even take a luxury cruise to Bangkok port of you have the time.From Bangkok you can fly to Chiang Mai or Mae Hong Son, which are the two principal cities in Northern Thailand, as well as vibrant cultural centers. Of course you have the option of travelling by land to one of these also, and there are regular train services as well as luxury buses that cover the distance in an average of 12 hours. From Chiang Mai you can again travel either by bus or by train, and the trip to Nan usually takes 3 to 4 hours. It is also a memorable journey, for the road winds across magnificent hilly terrain covered with lush vegetation and interrupted by sudden, onrushing brooks that take your breath away with their splendor.
Nan and its Wats
Once you reach Nan, you can collect yourself in a variety of staying options; it is being actively developed as an eco-tourism spot as well as a trekking center by the Thai Tourism Authority, and in the last few years a number of hotels catering to different budges have sprung up. You can choose from luxury hotels, or cozy little boutique hotels, or comfortable guest houses that do no burn a hole in your pocket but still provide you with basic amenities. So once you have washed and had a satisfying meal, you will wish to visit the many wats dotting Nan and its surrounding hillsides; one of the best options for moving around town is to rent out a bike or a cycle, which is also the most popular local transport.
The Wat Phra That Chae Haeng
One of the most venerable, and ancient, of the temples is the WatPhra That, located on top of a low hill just to the southeast of the town, beyond the Nan River. It was constructed back in 1354 by Chao Phraya KanMuang, who was then ruler of the Nan valley, with his capital at Pua. When the king moved his capital to Nan a few years later, he decided to move the temple as well; however, temple came back to its present location in 1368 in accordance with the wishes of then ruler Chao Pha Kong.
You can reach the temple up a long flight of stairs in the Naga style; it features a lot of detailed motives on its walls, and you can spend an entire day taking in all the details. Facing west, there is a large reclining Buddha statue in the Viharn Sayat just outside the main temple complex. There is a magnificent chedi, or pagoda, rebuilt circa 1454, rising 56 meters into the sky, which is a distinct landmark for miles around. But the most distinctive feature of the temple is its central mondop, which lies inside the main enclosure along with the viharn. The viharn is built in the Laotian style, with a Sukhotai style image of Phra Chao Lanthong.
It hosts a religious festival during late February or early March of each year, when the full moon is seen during the fourth lunar month, and you should not miss the colorful and joyous occasion if you wish to visit this temple.