Construction on Wat Jed Yod began in the year 1455 under the orders of the Lanna King Tilokarrat. The temple is completely unique in northern Thailand being that it was designed after the sacred Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya in northern India where Buddha attained enlightenment. After sending monks to Bagan in nearby Burma to study the design of a similar copy construction was started. During the year 1476, an auspicious time due to it being the 2000th anniversary of Buddhism the king planted a Bodhi tree on the temple grounds, the bodhi tree being known as the type of tree that Buddha meditated under for 49 days to achieve enlightenment. The temple’s importance lies in its use as the home of the 8th world Buddhist council the following year in 1477.
The temple derives its name from the Viharn, as Jed Yod means “7 peaks”. The walls of the viharn are decorated with 70 carved reliefs of Thewada figures, a type of celestial being. The interior of the Viharn contains a large seated Buddha figure on a pedestal, while a smaller side tunnel contains a second large Buddha figure. Situated next to the Viharn are two large gongs and a number of bells.
3 Chedi’s dot the temple grounds. The largest of the three known as Phra Chedi contains the ashes of King Tilokarrat who originally commissioned construction the temple. The remaining 2 chedis have been damaged or collapsed over the 540 year history of the temple.
The temple is also home to a smaller and more modern viharn with 3 peaks and Naga’s guarding the entrance. The outside is an elaborately carved facade.
The bodhi tree on the grounds is said to be the original tree planted by the king himself over 500 years ago. Its heart-shaped leaves offering a respite from the bright Thai sun that so often shines. Another unique feature of this temple is the number of snake statues that dot the grounds as well as near the bodhi tree. It is said that in Lanna tradition there is a temple for every Asian zodiac signs and this temple’s sign was for people born in the year of the snake. Being one of the least visited temples in all of Chiang Mai it is an excellent place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and one is unlikely to see many if any tourists at all at this beautiful and tranquil temple making it the perfect spot for a quiet moment of reflection.
The Temple is open from 6am-6pm, and there is no admission fee, however donations are very much appreciated. As with any Buddhist Temple, it is expected that you dress respectfully and keep your voice low so as not to disturb those who are praying or meditating.