Wat Sri Suphan is a worthy addition to our current Chiang Mai temple coverage — it’s a good one and its location adjacent to the Wualai walking street market makes it very convenient to combine the two. With Wualai being Chiang Mai’s traditional silver-making district, the temple’s claim to fame is unsurprisingly its silverwork. Having seen the wat we now wonder how there’s any of that precious metal left over to make anything else.
Now we’re not sure what quality the silver is — some of it’s clearly silver plating or even silver paint — but a whole lot of silver there certainly is at Wat Sri Suphan. It’s really very impressive. The main feature — and if you’re on Wualai Road the temple is signposted as such — is the silver ubosot, or ordination hall. (If you’re coming from the moat end of the road take the right turn after some 400 or 500 metres.)
We photographed the hall on a dull Chiang Mai day so it looked kind of grey but get the sunning shining on it and it is spectacular. The interior is also all silver with some finely crafted reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology.
Plenty of friendly monks wander around the site though and we assume some speak English since the temple holds a monk chat, so we’re sure one of them would take great pleasure in explaining the depicted scenes. (Monk chat plus meditation is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays.) The only drawback with the silver ubosot is that, as with several other Chiang Mai wats, women are not allowed inside the main ordination hall.
This is obviously rather a major drawback for approximately 50% of our readers but here’s the explanation:
Anyway the outside of the hall is spectacular and there’s plenty else to see without chancing deterioration.
Check out the silver workshop, for example, which is open to visitors — follow the signs to the right of the entrance. Here you can see the craftsmen creating these elaborate high relief friezes, while the temple precinct is full of the usual eclectic collection of statues, images and random objects that most Thai temples hold, although of course in this case they’re all in silver.
You can wander the grounds with a frappuccino from the coffee shop, which also seems de rigueur in the more popular wats these days.
This is an interesting spot to while away half an hour or so, and as we said it’s very convenient to the Saturday walking street market too.
By Mark Ord.
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