Mai : Attractions / Wat Chet Yot
Chet Yot (Wat Photharam)
|Eventful Temple Boasting Exquisite Lanna Works
(4 km. on Super Highway / see Map
of Chiang Mai City)
The temple compound
(temple) Chet Yot or Wat Photharam Mahavihara, a
sacred temple of Chiang Mai, is situated on Super
Highway (Chiang Mai-Lampang), 4 km from Doi Suthep.
It is held prestigious because the eighth revision
of the Buddhist Tripitaka took place here in the
reign of King Tilokkarat (1442-1487) of the Lanna
Kingdom. The king himself was the chairman of that
event. In addition to its significance in history,
its works of art are among the finest of the Lanna
school. To make your visit to the temple more enjoyable,
Thaiways presents to you the temple's background
and some interesting aspects.
In 1455, King Tilokkarat ordered to construct a
temple to be the abode of a revered Buddhist monk
named Uttama Panya Thera.
At the first stage of the temple establishment,
a Bodhi tree, which is said to be a sapling of the
Original Sri Maha Bodhi in Sri Lanka, was planted
here to commemorate the Lord Buddha. Walking around
it, you will see a lot of wood posts leaning against
the Bodhi tree as if to support it. This is a northern
tradition done as an auspicious start for the Thai
New Year (Songkran Festival, 13-15 April). Besides,
as the Bodhi tree is a token of Buddhism, the practice
signifies that the lay people unite to support Buddhism.
This is believed to be a grand merit.
The stupa housing
The old ordination
Replicas of Satta Mahasathan* were built together
with the temple, also as religious memorials. King
Tilokkarat called the temple Photharam Mahavihara.
Photha means a Bodhi tree and mahavihara
means a huge monastic hall. However, the locals
prefer to call it Wat Chet Yot as the main stupa
has seven spires.
When King Tilokkarat died in 1487, King Yot Chiang
Rai, his grandson, built a stupa to house his relics.
In the reign of King Muang Kaeo (1495-1525), the
temple was renovated and an ordination hall was
Afterwards, Wat Chet Yot was deserted for some time.
It was not until the early Rattanakosin Period (1782-1851)
that King Kawila of Chiang Mai (1796) restored towns
and temples including Wat Chet Yot.
Constructions in the Compound
The Seven-spire Stupa, which is similar to the Mahabodhi
Temple or Buddha Gaya, India, shows delicate craftsmanship
of its stuccoed bas reliefs in forms of sitting
and standing angels. Because of the distinctive
style, they became a prototype for works of art
of successive ages. You will notice that the attire
of each angel is different from that of the rest.
Other motifs like flowers and creepers reflect the
Chinese influence which was first introduced to
Thailand in the form of ceramics around 1260-1368.
2. The old ordination hall is in the northeast of
the present ordination hall. It was built in 1502
under the command of King Muang Kaeo of the Mangrai
3. The stupa housing King Tilokkarat's relics is
a large castle-shaped chedi. Each of the four sides
of its base has an arch in which a Buddha image
was once housed.
*Satta Mahasathan refers to seven sites where the
Buddha passed seven successive weeks in meditation
after gaining enlightenment. They are: 1.Bodhi Tree
2. Animesha Chedi 3. Ratana Chankramana Chedi 4.
Ratanaghara Chedi 5. Ajapala Nigrodha Tree 6. Muchalinda
Lake and 7. Raja-yatana Tree. The seven sites are
located in the precinct of Mahabodhi Temple (Buddha
Gaya), India. At Wat Chet Yot, at present, only
three are left, viz. Animesha Chedi, Ratanaghara
Chedi and Muchalinda Lake.
• For more information, please
contact TAT Northern Office Region 1, tel: +66 (0)5324
8604, +66 (0) 5324 8607.
Special thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand
(TAT) Northern Office Region 1 for arranging an
impressive press tour of Chiang Mai and to Mag Media
Co., Ltd. and Forty-Five Organizer & Media Co.,
Ltd. for facilitating the photographing and giving
us useful information.