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Timings : 6:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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Wat Umong, Chiang Mai Overview

Nestled near the Doi Suthep mountain, Wat U Mong Thera Jan is a peaceful temple far from the city bustle. It is also called the Tunnel Temple due to its labyrinth network of tunnels set within the forest. It offers a wholesome experience of Buddhism, complete with ancient stone structures, Dhamma teachings, meditation sessions and prayer chants reverberating in the air.

A 13th-century landmark, Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham translates to a "temple of the tunnels and Buddha Dharma garden." These temple tunnels house Buddha shrines where visitors and devotees pray and pay their respects to the idol. The sounds of monks' chanting encompass the four walls underneath the temple ground. Since the location is amidst forest and natural lakes, this makes it a perfect spot to unwind your mind and go deep in meditation.

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Highlights of the Wat Umong

  • Besides the tunnels, there is also a copy of the Ashoka Pillar dating back to the 13th century, which is the same as the temple's origin. The pillar has four lions with a Dhamma wheel on top.
  • As you walk the ground trails around the mounds, you will find a collection of damaged and scattered Buddha structures between the trees. These structures, mostly the heads, were brought in from other temples around the region.
  • There is also a pond by the forest where visitors can feed the catfish, turtles, and ducks here by buying food from the vendors.
  • Along the trails through the forest, one would find wooden boards with meaningful proverbs of Buddhist values written in English and Thai hanging by the trees.
  • For those keen on learning the monastic life or wanting to experience the bliss of meditation, there is a meditation centre located near the temple entrance.

History of the Wat Umong

According to the local history, Wat Umong was originally named as Werukattaharam and was built for a monk, Thera Jan by King Mengrai. He was the founder of Chiang Mai and also the first king of Lanna.

Upon Chiang Mai's Discovery - The King's Plan
After Chiang Mai was discovered, the city began to attract more crowd, thus, creating a barrier for a smooth and peaceful meditative time amongst the monks. Due to the King Mengrai's fondness towards Monk Thera Jan, he ordered for multiple tunnels to be dug underground. Thus, these brick wall tunnels decorated in Buddhist murals came into being. Leading to the forests and lakes near Doi Suthep mountain, every tunnel here gave the monks a conducive atmosphere to carry out their meditation.

Temple Restoration
However, abandoned during the 15th century, this forested-temple was only reopened and restored in 1948. Renowned as the centre of Buddhist teachings and meditation, Wat Umong is also one of the most active temples in Chiang Mai. Although most of the Buddhist murals have disappeared since then, it still exudes charm and serenity.

Tips

  • Dress according to local tradition and rules while going to the temple.
  • Remove your footwear before entering the temple.

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