Wat Chiang Man is recognized as being the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, the construction of the temple was founded in 1296 at the site of the camp King Mengraiused when he supervised the building of the city of Chiang Mai.
The oldest single structure within the temple grounds is the Chang Lom Chedi with its magnificent gold colored roof & supported by fifteen elephants which represent a sea of unformed matter upon which the cosmos of the Chedi floats.
The temple grounds also contain two Lanna style (multiple sloping roof) buildings called Viharn’s, a viharn is a sermon hall & is usually the busiest building in a Wat (temple) and is open to everyone. Viharns typically hold an altar and several Buddha images.
The larger viharn was renovated in the 1920’s. The standing Buddha image (front right of the altar) has an inscription on its slightly lopsided square base that dates it to 1465. This makes it the oldest dated Buddha image to have been found in Chiang Mai.
The smaller viharn to the north contains two small but very famous Buddha images. The Phra Sila Buddhais a bas-relief (3D carving) made of marble and stands around 30cm tall, this image probably came from Ceylon in around the 8th century. This image is believed to have the power to bring rain and is the specific focus of a festival at the temple held from April 1-5 each year.
The second image of note is the Phra Sae Tang Khamani Buddha which is a miniature crystal seated image only 10cm high, also known as the White Emerald Buddha which is believed to have arrived between the 8th & 9th century, and is honoured for its powers to protect against disaster.
How to get there:
Wat Chiang Man is on Ratchaphakhinai Road near where it intersects Sri Phum Road, which runs just inside the moat along the north wall of the old city.
The closest “landmark” to Wat Chiang Man is the Thai Airways office on Phrapokklao Road.
Just walk down the small street next to the office and turn left at the next main street. The temple will be on your left.