Wat Lok Molee

Wat Lok Molee Temple in Chiang Mai

Wat Lok Molee, the masterpiece of the Lanna art

Around the area of the city moat of Chiang Mai is where many renowned temples of the city are located. Illiterately, the glory and prosperity of Buddhism in the period of the ancient Lanna which lures numerous tourists in both Thai and international to visit the former glorious kingdom in the north of Thailand. And now we will introduce you to another remarkable temple “Wat Lok Molee” in which the place is outstanding in architectural of art that is irresistible for anyone to glance back to its charismatic appearance. 

Background of Wat Lok Molee

Background of the temple

Looking back through the time, Wat Lok Molee is one of the ancient monasteries in Lanna with no any clue about the exact time of building. Nonetheless, the emerging of the temple’s name was first to reveal in 1367 in the reign of King Gue Na, the 6th king of Mangrai Dynasty of the Lanna Kingdom. The king graciously invited a group of Buddhist monks led by “Phra Maha Uthumporn Bupphamahasavami Chao” from Martaban in Burma to expand the Buddhism in the Lanna Kingdom. Those of which Martaban monks resided at Wat Lok Molee which was the royal court to receive the state visitants.  

Then, in 1527, Phrya Kaew bestowed to constructed the Great Pagoda and Royal Vihara and in 1545 the ashes of Phra Muaeng Ketklao that is said to be stored over the area of monastery wall in the north where was the symbolic royal monastery of the king at that time. Afterward, the court officials invited Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi to succeed to the throne during 1545 – 1546. It was the fragile time of Lanna since the court officials empowered the state. As a result, to King Chairachathirat of Ayutthaya marched to conquer Chiang Mai.

Luckily, with the competency of Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi who loves and cherishes her people, so the queen could protect her kingdom without any loss at all; further, the queen invited King Chairachathirat to make the merit at Wat Lok Molee. Besides the queen herself also donated her private property to build the stupa called “Gu Phra Muaeng Ket Klao” to honor to her kingdom. Consequently, Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi is esteemed as “Goddess of Love” of Lanna since then.    

In the reign of Queen Visutthirat Devi, the last sovereign ruler of Mangrai Dynasty, she ministered the Buddhism very well; also, she has much faith in the Supreme Patriarch “Somdej Lok Molee Chao” until her death. And in 1578, Queen Visutthirat Devi’s cremation was organized at the temple, and her ashes were stored within the monastery complex.     

Shortly afterward, Chiang Mai was dominated by Burma for more than two centuries, and lots of temples in the kingdom were destroyed. Fortunately, Wat Lok Molee survived from that tragic incidence because it had been a major royal monastery for all the time, also the residence of the Supreme Patriarch “Somdej Lok Molee Chao” as well. Apparently, in 1639 King Suttho Thammaracha with his deep faith to make great merit annually on the waxing moon of the second month following to Lanna calendar or the twelfth month of Thai calendar to pay respect toward the supreme patriarch. And it considered as an important traditional ceremony at the time.     

And then during the World War II, the temple was abandoned to be ruin until the Department of Fine Arts announced to registered Wat Lok Molee as the national historical site in 1959.

In 2001, the Sangha Council of Chiang Mai voted for “Phra Nyanasombodhi,” the abbot of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep  Ratcha Woraviahara being the president of the project to construct and restore the complex to be the resided temple for the monks. And once it completed the council appointed “Phra Khru Paiboon Chetiyanurak” a Buddhist monk with a Ph.D. degree from India is the president of the monks to manage the monastery from then on.

There are lots of important building of the religious objects at the temple such as the pouring of the gold ceremony to cast a Buddha image called ” Phra Buddha Santi Jiraboromloknat” and laying the foundation stone ceremony of vihara (sermon hall) included to the development project for the temple. Consequently, the temple now hugely developed until it is ranked 1 of 10 temples in the northern territory that well-known among the people and another must-not-miss attraction to visit in Chiang Mai.  

Department of Religious Affairs, dated November 9, 2001, approved the status of Wat Lok Molee from ruined holy place to the royal monastery legally and appointed “Phra Nyanasombodhi” as a deputy of the principle of the temple. And in 2002, the temple organized the pouring of the gold ceremony to cast the statue of Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi together with enshrining the Buddha’s relics inside the head of the main Buddha image of vihara at Wat Lok Molee, as well.

Making a wish for love to Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi, the Goddess of Love of Lanna

Referring to Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi considered being the goddess of love for centuries. Until now, a vast number of people – teenagers, students, businessmen, and tourists come to Wat Lok Molee to worship the queen’s statue consistently. Mostly come to make a wish for love, education, occupation, fortune, including to the business, and lots fulfill the vow with the belief that the queen blesses then with great love and kindness. And they will come back to offer the redemption to the sacred statue with fruits or hard-boiled eggs mainly. 

What to see at Wat Lok Molee

Chedi of Wat Lok Molee

Chedi of Wat Lok Molee

The chedi which believed that was constructed in 1528 in the throne of King Muaeng Ketklao. The castle-like pagoda had been restoring continually. The renovation mostly focused on the base of the structure by increasing the height – the lotus-shaped base which is double in size apparently.

Vihara (the sanctuary) of Wat Lok Molee

Vihara (the sanctuary) of Wat Lok Molee

Vihara was built after the restoration, and the temple was already approved the temple’s status. It is a teakwood architect in Lanna design which is magnificent and delicate in art and ornamented with the marvelous craved decoration. According to the historical evidence noted that the old sanctuary was constructed at the same time as the pagoda construction in 1528.  

Golden Buddha Statues in Wat Lok Molee

The highlighted character which makes the vihara at Wat Lok Molee is so outstanding is the stained glass furnished at the pediment resulted in various pigments of color over the roof of this edifice that backgrounds in black. That is to say, the black color of the roof accentuates the bright colors of the mosaic – white, blue, yellow, and green to be more glittering.

Additionally, the interior of the vihara is a house to enshrine the principal Buddha image of the hall which is in the attitude of meditation    surrounded with the gorgeous engraved patterns on the ceiling and columns. The important Buddha statue named “Phra Buddha Santijira Boromloknat” which is said that the Buddha’s relics stored inside the topknot of the image on November 6, 2003.

Mandapa (the squared hall with a pyramidal roof) Jiraprapha Maha Devi

Mandapa (the squared hall with a pyramidal roof)

The building is the location that the statue of Queen Jiraprapha Maha Devi enshrined. The queen is renowned as the noteworthy patron of Wat Lok Molee during her reign in order to inherit the valuable religious and artistic place of Lanna for the next generation. Meanwhile, the statue is a commemoration for her grace, too.

Monks’ dwelling and the residence of “Somdet.”

The dwelling of monks at Wat Lok Molee is designed in the contemporary Lanna style which makes its edifice so unique. The marvelous northern architect with the stucco figure of Phra Muaeng Ketklao over the door facade.  

The door facade of Wat Lok Molee

The door facade of Wat Lok Molee

The arch is right at the front of the sermon hall (vihara) adjacent to the street. The door arch ornamented with beautiful fresco in Lanna pattern.

In fact, though Wat Lok Molee is restored recently with new constructed religious objects. However, it is second to none in its beauty to other monasteries in the area of city moat of Chiang Mai. Moreover, the site currently a vital learning center of the native culture and art and   being the venue for lots of prominent events, for example “Pee Mai Muaeng” the Lanna’s New Year Festival, Summer Novice Ordination, and merit making in particularly ones relevant to the religion – Visakha Bucha Day, Makha Bucha Day, Asalaha Bucha Day, Beginning of the Buddhist Lent, and End of the Buddhist Lent, for instance. 

How to go to Wat Lok Molee

By Car:

Wat Lok Molee locates on the Rounded Road of the city moat in Chiang Mai town in the north. You drive along Manee Nopparat Road and looks for the signage of PTT Gas Station. The temple is next to the gas station with Manee Nopparat 2 Alley is in between.

By Public Transport:

The traveler can get the red pick-up truck service which is available anywhere in Chang Mai town and gets off at Wat Lok Molee.


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