Wat Lok Molee - An Overview
History of Wat Lok Molee
The exact history of Wat Lok Molee is a bit of a mystery. The date of its construction is unknown, what we do know is that the first mention of Wat Lok Molee is a 1367 charter by King Kue Na inviting 10 Burmese monks to Chiang Mai to teach Theravada Buddhism (the dominant Buddhism of Thailand) and the monks were housed at this temple. The temple was very likely a royal temple as the ashes of several important figures of the Mengrai Dynasty (1292-1558) including Kings and some of their wives are interred within the Chedi on the temple grounds. After the Burmese invaded northern Thailand in 1558 the temple lost its important status and was eventually abandoned and was not restored until the mid 20th century.
The Chedi of Wat Lok Molee is very large, it was commissioned by King Mueangketklao in 1527, just 31 years before the fall of the Lanna empire of northern Thailand. The Chedi has 3 tiers with a large square base. Near the top of the Chedi on each of the 4 sides are carved niches with Buddha images, on the sides of each niche are carvings of Thevada, a kind of celestial being. The spire of the Chedi has been restored to its former glory and shines in brilliant gold. At the front of the base of the chedi, some statues can be seen. A statue of Phra Sivali is seen holding an umbrella, Phra Sivali was an important monk from the time of the Buddha and his images are said to bring good fortune. Directly behind the Sivali statue is a very tall wooden carving of 2 nagas woven together, each time the nagas cross over themselves you can see an animal of the Chinese zodiac.
To the casual observer, the Viharn of Wat Lok Molee looks to be very old, with its wooden walls and roof built in the traditional Lanna style. However, looks can be deceiving as this building was constructed in 2003. Examining the outside of the temple, one can see the exquisite wood carvings that adorn much of exterior. The interior of the temple is just as elegant as the exterior with fantastic wooden carvings everywhere you look. Be sure to take a moment inside and examine the carvings adorning the walls and ceiling. At the rear is the altar and a large seated Buddha image shines in brilliant gold. The Viharn is particularly beautiful at night when walking by from the street as the Buddha image is well lit and shines brightly within the interior beckoning any who wander past to step inside and bask in its light.
The temple complex contains a wooden pavilion housing a statue of Queen Chiraprapha who ruled the Lanna Kingdom for 2 short years in 1545 and 1546. Throughout the temple complex, one can see various statues and carvings, several are Hindu related and others appear to be gifts from artisans such as a large carved wooden elephant. At the rear of the temple, it is sometimes possible to see aluminum craftsmen working on highly detailed aluminum reliefs that can take weeks, months, or years to finish.
Opening Hours, Fees, and other information
While the Temple is officially open from 6am-5pm, it is not uncommon to see tourists strolling around and within the well-lit temple complex a few hours after sunset. Admission is free, 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.