Wat Suan Dok translates as the temple of the flower garden. Located just outside the ancient city wall, it is said to have been a flower garden in the 14th century and not far from the palace of the Chiang Mai-kings. It became the final resting place for those kings.
Visit the still active monastery, which enshrines parts of a sacred Buddha relic; a white elephant transported the other part to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The goest that when the moment came for the relic to be housed here, it miraculously duplicated itself.
The 48 metres tall Sri Lankan style chedi is a gilded, bell-shaped contour. It surfaces above a group of white reliquaries honouring the Chiang Mai royal family of the seven lords. The highland of Doi Suthep soars behind like the back of a Naga snake.
Wat Suan Dok was built during the rule of King Ku Na(Guna). Then it was restored during the reign of king Kawila. It sprawls on a ground where the Lawa people formerly built a fort.
I love to drop by here every now and then. Something is soothing about all the white peaceful and pure chedis. At the same time, there is a sense of omnipresent power, like you are being gazed upon by fire-breathing dragons and scaly reptiles, scaring away evil forces and bad energy.
On a sunny hot day with blue skies, the photos are great. However, it is also lovely to roam around a bit after sunset, with the lights casting a more dreamish tone on the structures.
The memorial of Wat Suan Dok
It was constructed in 1907 by Princess Dara Rasmi, a consort of King Rama V.; the princess collected the ashes of the former rulers of Chiang Mai (Na Chiang Mai) and other members of the royalty to store in the place.
Wat Suan Dok monk chat
It is also interesting to watch the Buddhist novice students go on with their daily life. This is a centre for Buddhist education. When I lived in Nimmanhemin 22 years ago, I used to come here often for the monk chat. I befriended a novice from Laos that lived in a small cell in the compound. We had these long talks about everything, anything and nothing. I remember in particular that he was a big fan och David Beckham that he had on a poster on the wall. I can his exact name, but I remember that whenever he got tired of me asking too detailed or academic questions about Buddhism.
He always said, – It is clear that you studied a lot about Buddhism. But I am a Buddhist. It is a significant difference, he concluded.
I highly recommend coming here to meet a monk or novice and chat. It gives a better understanding of Buddhism, and then the buildings are not just exotic and orientalist anymore; they come to life with more understanding to them.
Monk chats are held daily from Monday to Friday from 1600 until 1900.
See the details of the monk chat here.
Pun Pun Vegetarian restaurant Wat Suan Dok
I am not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy vegetarian food. And the setting at this lively temple area and the impressive Bodhi tree has a classic restaurant that I am glad to return to now and then. Great vegetarian food, don’t miss it! Exact location here. Because Wat Suan Dok is very close to Suan Dok hospital, there are also many small “holes in the wall restaurants just outside the temple, as well as fruit stands and vendors selling all kinds of things.
Read more about Chiang Mais temples here.