Attractive but often overlooked
Published/Last edited or updated: 24th August, 2017
Wat Lok Molee is an attractive and often overlooked little temple which recently received a facelift. While not one of Chiang Mai’s most well known temples, it's well worth including on any temple tour of downtown.
If we were to grade wats by the number of photos we take in them, then Wat Lok Molee is right near the top; not so much for the main viharn, which is a fairly classic design, but for some of the oddities and curios we came across scattered around the small, interestingly cluttered grounds. When visiting any of Chiang Mai’s temples, it is always worth poking around in the corners or peeking behind things.
Some fascinating mosaics and reliefs adorn the hall’s walls—no gaudy murals in this one—showing the eight different Buddha positions of the week. (There are two for Wednesdays—morning and afternoon.) More intriguing is the eclectic range of subsidiary statues and images to be found in various corners of the garden, such as an impressive Brahma image. (Well, it’s officially Brahma but manages to combine aspects of Shiva—the third eye—as well as holding attributes more commonly associated with Vishnu.)
Also fairly unusual, and we reckon striking, is the shrine housing a sort of fusion image of the traditional Chinese goddess Guanyin or Kuan Yin with Lokesvara-type multi arms. In fact, though she is not normally depicted in this way she is often considered to be the female incarnation of the Bodhisattva Lokesvara or Avolokesvara, who is also frequently depicted with numerous arms.
The temple is thought to date to the 14th century though its origins are somewhat obscure. The viharn which, as we mentioned saw a major overhaul in recent times, and the large brick stupa were constructed in the early part of the 16th century by the Lanna king at the time, Phra Muang Kaew, and indeed the stupa now houses the ashes of both himself and his wife.
If you get bored looking at the religious buildings and images then alternative offerings include wooden elephant statues or a random old Mercedes displayed next to the monk’s quarters. Perhaps of more interest is the aluminium workshop at the rear of the temple, next to the massage area, where craftsmen painstakingly hammer away at sheets of metal for weeks on end.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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