Wat Umong

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I visit the ancient Tunnel Temple of Chiang Mai


July 2015

I had thrown some complaints offhand to one of my professors that, with all of our class time, I did not have time to visit Wat Umong, Chiang Mai’s beautiful tunnel temple. Apparently my complaints hit something, because the professor decided to take the entire class on an excursion to the site.

The temple grounds were large, with multiple places sectioned off for meditation. Roosters pecked at the ground and often crowed.

rooster wat umong chiang mai jungle rainforest thailand monk robes

Roosters & Monk’s robes seen on the grounds of Wat Umong

Neon green silk worms could sometimes be seen hanging from invisible lifelines. One area had a bridge leading to an island on a small lake, with an option to feed pigeons.

Pond on one edge of the grounds of Wat Umong

Pond on one edge of the grounds of Wat Umong

One building was full of murals depicting fairy tales/legends/myths/religious stories. There were hundreds of painted signs hung on trees throughout the temple grounds, each with a different proverb. Every once in a while, we would stumble across a badly translated one.

There was also a very odd section of the temple that had posters depicting dogs doing drugs, gambling, etc, with irrelevant inspirational quotes underneath.

Thailand, I will never pretend to understand you

Thailand, I will never pretend to understand you

I also explored a garden full of deteriorating Buddha figures, which was beautiful.

Deteriorating Buddha garden at Wat Umong

Deteriorating Buddha garden at Wat Umong

Discarded Buddhas at Wat Umong

Discarded Buddhas at Wat Umong

The main attraction of the tunnel temple, as its name would suggest, was the temple of tunnels. A massive sienna chedi loomed high above the temple grounds.

The Chedi (tower) of Wat Umong

The Chedi (tower) of Wat Umong

The Chedi was, itself, very large, but it also sat atop a large mound of land. The land was carved out with a network of narrow tunnels. Most of which weren’t quite tall enough for me to stand straight up in.

At the ends of some tunnels were shrines with golden Buddha figures, with offerings of lotuses and burning incense.

Exploring the tunnels of Wat Umong

Exploring the tunnels of Wat Umong

There were also tiny Buddha figurines in little carved-out alcoves.

I spent a fair amount of time exploring Wat Umong with bare feet. I enjoyed reading every proverb that I stumbled across. The Wat and its surrounding grounds were definitely some of the most peaceful that I had seen while in Asia.

Advertisements

Leave a comment/question/suggestion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s