Wat Ban Den is a temple that follows the pattern of newly constructed temples like the Blue and White temples in Chiang Rai. The whole area is very overwhelming. I almost got a feeling similar to what Somerset Maugham most have felt when he emotionally tried to relate to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Very strong impressions. Wow! Fantastic! Is this really for real?! Oh, there is more!! It was kind of exhausting. I felt struck by something hard from all impressions. There is a mix at this temple of traditional folk belief, you find symbols from Thai Theravada Buddhism, and Chinese Mahayana and mythological animals from an Indian tradition. An expression of pan-buddhism.
Sometimes, I felt like I was in an ancient teak palace in Mandalay/ Myanmar, then suddenly transferred to the Forbidden City in Beijing, then an old traditional Thai Lanna temple. This temple blends and mixes everything.
Wat Ban Den is full of impressions and details and it is necessary to go here again. Like a dreamlike vision! Some visitors describe it as over the top. I was simply amazed, it got to me in many ways. There is for sure no lack of funding, and the place is not short of photo opportunities. When you get there, you also realise that it is not completed yet. It is still under construction.
Someone portrayed it as an area for spiritual relaxation more than a place for worship. But there are for sure more than enough Buddhas and religious symbols to relate to.
The founder of the temple was a person by the name Kruba Chaiya, it was built just below a low hill in the year 1894. Wat Sahari Sribunrang was the original name of the temple, a name that is related to a sacred cave in the mountain. The full official name today is, Wat Bandensali Sri Mueang Kaen.
In the late 1980s local Thai people, Chinese and minority people got together to renovate the temple. The idea was now that anyone could contribute, therefore this mix of different beliefs within the complex. It all started because a famous priest in the North met with Kruba in one of his dreams. He felt an urge to fulfil the vision of the founder.
Visitors can enjoy; details of historic Lanna religious art, there is a reclining Buddha, and seated Buddhas, you find the “happy” Chinese Maytreya style Buddha and it is possible to pay homage to the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
It is honestly very difficult to describe the temple area.I betterl leave you with pictures to give you a hint. Since it is still growing and mostly rather new, some people find it hard to get that deep religious atmosphere here. But I very much recommend that you find out for yourself. It is spectacular.
Opening hours: From 07.00 – 18.00 according to Google. Location in Mae Taeng here.
Remember a conservative dress code.
If you don’t have transportation, you can use Grab or the services of Taxi Chiang Mai.
For lunch we ate at an interesting restaurant just nearby, ส้มตำ ป้าดี.
The restaurant was similar to the temple in the sense that they had a mix of everything, pizza, deep-fried chicken, papaya salad, shaved ice and more. All good taste!