Wat Umong Suan Putthatham, Chiang Mai, Thailand
high-definition creative commons photographs from this temple in Ajahn Buddhadatta's lineage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, showing the statues and decoration work, including copies of ancient Indian reliefs, together with a video and further information.
Unusually, this is a forest monastery within the bounds of the old City, and after being abandoned for around 500 years it was re-occupied by forest monks in 1948. The monks follow the traditions of the great teacher, Ajahn Buddhadasa, whose Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, southern Thailand, it rather resembles.
The temple in Chiang Mai was originally called Werukattatharam, which means the temple with the eleven clumps of bamboo. It appears that after the founding of Chiang Mai, sometime around 1297, King Mangrai built this temple for Phra Thera Chan and some other Sri Lankan monks to reside in.
Later man-made tunnels were built into the monastery at the command of King Keu Na, and the name then changed to Wat Umong (The Tunnel Temple). It seems the Temple was abandoned sometime around the time of King Tilokarat (15th century).
Until recently it apparently had good mural paintings in the caves and some of the guide books still mention them, but they do not appear to be there anymore, at least we couldn't find them, and we had access to all the tunnels.
The photo collection consists of two groups. First, there are statues left in the open air, that have been affected by the elements, and are now overgrown with moss. Many of these were collected by the monks from different areas around Lanna; the Chedi, built in Sukhothai style, is also overgrown and quite in harmony with its surroundings.
Secondly, there are a set of replicas of ancient reliefs from India. This latter is quite in keeping with the traditions at Suan Mokkh, where similar copies of ancient works can be found. They vary in quality, but as they are characteristic of this group of temples I include them here.
text based partly on a signboard inside the grounds
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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