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 felt when he emotionally tried to relate to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Powerful 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.
Wat Ban Den is a mix of traditional folk beliefs; you find symbols from Thai Theravada Buddhism, 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 combines 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 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.
History of Wat Ban Den temple
The founder of the temple was a person named 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 renovated 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, a reclining Buddha and seated Buddhas, you find the “happy” Chinese Maitreya style Buddha, and it is possible to pay homage to the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
It is honestly brutal to describe the temple area. I better leave you with pictures to give you a hint. Since it is still growing and mostly relatively 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 to follow 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 a charming restaurant just nearby, ส้มตำ ป้าดี.
The restaurant was similar to the temple because they had a mix of everything, pizza, deep-fried chicken, papaya salad, shaved ice and more. All good taste!