The Wat Muen Ngoen Kong in the old walled town of Chiang Mai is a little visited temple comprising of a principal viharn, several smaller viharns, an ubosot and a chedi. The temple is believed to have been founded in the 14th century. Its name translates to “temple of the ten thousand piles of money”.
Lanna style main viharn
The main viharn, a large wooden structure set on a stone base, is a good example of Lanna style architecture. The ends of its multi tiered roof are adorned with golden chofah, an ornamental element that looks like a bird and represents Garuda, the mount of the Hindu God Vishnu. The wooden panels on the viharn’s front gable are adorned with elaborately carved Lanna flower motifs in gold. Two large golden deities embellish the entrance door.
The viharn’s red ceiling is decorated with golden motifs of flowers and deities. Two rows of gold lacquered red columns support the roof. Colorful banners hanging down the columns contain pictures of animals of the Lanna calendar like tiger, rabbit, dragon, horse, goat, monkey and rooster.
The main viharn enshrines the Wat Muen Ngoen Kong’s principal Buddha image, a golden statue in the subduing Mara posture, also known as “Calling the Earth to witness”. It is surrounded by several smaller Buddha images in various mudras.
Reclining Buddha viharn
Next to the principal viharn stands the reclining Buddha viharn, a structure with a multi tiered roof and an elaborately decorated front gable. Its entrance doors are adorned with gold and red depictions of deities. The hall enshrines a large gold painted image of the reclining Buddha on the way to final Nirvana. The viharn’s walls are adorned with recent, colorful murals showing depictions of Buddhist stories.
Third Lanna style viharn
The entrance of a third small viharn is guarded by a pair of golden Naga serpents. The gable of the Lanna style structure is adorned with beautiful golden carvings. Inside the simple interior is a Buddha image in subduing Mara posture flanked by two standing Buddha images.
Ubosot, the ordination hall
Next to the reclining Buddha viharn stands the small ubosot, the hall where novices are ordained into monkhood. The golden gables on the multi tiered roof are adorned with Naga heads. On either side of the stairway to the entrance is a Makara, a mythological sea creature, spewing a Naga serpent. The panels on the front gable are decorated with Lanna style gold on red flower and animal motifs. On the entrance door are two large gold on red depictions of deities. The ubosot is usually locked.
Behind the principal viharn is the Wat Muen Ngoen Kong’s golden chedi, topped with a spire and a multi tiered hti. Niches on all four faces of the structure enshrine a standing image of the Buddha in Abhaya mudra, the gesture showing reassurance and dispelling fear. Surrounding the chedi are smaller chedis with depictions of animals of the Lanna calendar.
How to get to Wat Muen Ngoen Kong
The temple is located near the South West corner of the old walled town of Chiang Mai. It is found at the end of a small alley near the intersection of Sam Lan road and Ratchamanka.
Admission & opening hours
The temple grounds open daily during daylight hours. Admission is free.