History of Wat Lok Moli
Wat Lok Moli is a royal temple located outside the city walls to the northwest. Today it’s known as a forest temple. This temple first appeared during the reign of King Kuena in the Chiang Mai region. At that time, King Kuena requested that a group of monks travel to the town of Haripunchai to disseminate Buddhism in Chiang Mai. However, instead of the Great Buddha from Haripunchai, the Great Buddha’s consort sent a group of ten monks. Therefore, King Kuena asked the monks to stay at Wat Lok Moli for the rainy season retreat.
In the era of King Muang Kaew in the year 2070, he ordered the construction of a vihara and a chedi. In the same year, Muang Kaew was dethroned, and his daughter, Princess Sirichotevi, brought the Buddha relics to Wat Lok Moli. She also preserved bricks in the chedi at this time.
The Lanna Kingdom
In the year 1367, Phaya Kuanha initiated the ordination of Buddhist monks in the Lanna region by inviting the chief monk, Phra Maha Thera, to propagate Buddhism. However, due to the great reverence for Phra Maha Thera, he also invited ten more monks to continue spreading the teachings of Buddhism in the Lanna region. These monks undertook their monastic duties at Wat Lok Moli, which served as a welcoming place for the royal delegation led by Phra Ratcha Akkandakaja from various regions.
Subsequently, in the year 1527, Phaya Muang Kesakla graciously donated land in the Hua Wiang area to establish a monastery at Wat Lok Moli. In the year 1528, he also directed the construction of a large pagoda (chedi) and a shrine at Wat Lok Moli.
Later, when Phaya Kesakla was surreptitiously dethroned in the year 1545, government officials and nobles conducted a ceremony at Wat Sannok, bringing the revered Buddha image to be enshrined at Wat Lok Moli, located just north of the city wall of Chiang Mai and serving as the principal temple. This act marked an important event in the history of the temple.
The Lan Na Kingdom of Myanmar
During the period when Chiang Mai became a part of Myanmar starting from the year 2122 B.E. (1579 AD) onwards, many temples in the region were destroyed by fire. However, Wat Lok Moli was spared from such destruction. This was because the ruler of the Lanna region, King Muang Kaew, had a compassionate attitude toward Buddhism and spared Wat Lok Moli. He also merged the temple into Wat Visuttharam, considering it an important temple within his kingdom throughout his reign.
The Rattanakosin Era
In the year 2440 B.E. (1897 AD), Wat Lok Moli was located in the Taphan neighborhood, in the Jed Yod area of Chiang Mai. The abbot was named Tupaok, and the vice-abbot was Tukham. It was registered on August 17, 2482 B.E. (1939 AD). However, during the Second World War, Wat Lok Moli was left abandoned until the year 2502 B.E. (1959 AD), when it was registered by the Fine Arts Department as a national historical site.
On November 9, 2001, the Department of Religious Affairs approved Wat Lok Moli’s elevation from a forest temple to a legal royal temple. They appointed Phra Yanasammapa as the acting abbot. In 2002, a statue resembling Princess Jiraprapa, the Great Devi Goddess, was enshrined inside the temple.
Important Structures and Artifacts in Wat Lok Moli
Chedi Lok Moli: This chedi is believed to have been built during the 21st century, and it underwent several modifications. It features two layers at the base, with the lower layer lacking projections and the upper layer having additional projections. The central base still holds the rectangular relic chamber. The four sides of the relic chamber have pediments with a mix of convex and concave motifs. The pinnacle of the chedi has multiple layers, with bell-shaped and octagonal bases, supporting twelve facets for bells and umbrellas.
The Main Vihara: This wooden vihara was constructed and renovated over time. What’s striking about it is the stained glass that decorates the front side. This stained glass, with its various colors, creates a stunning effect against the black roof of the vihara.
The Buddha The temple houses a beautiful Buddha image called “Phra Phutthasanti Jiraborom Lokanat,” which was enshrined on November 6, 2003.
Activities at Wat Lok Moli
Wat Lok Moli hosts various activities throughout the year, including the celebration of the Thai New Year, the Buddhist Lent program during the hot season, ordination ceremonies, and annual Kathin ceremonies.
Location of Wat Lok Moli
Wat Lok Moli is situated at 298/1 Montri Road, Sri Phum Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District. You can reach it by private vehicle or by using public transportation.
In summary, Wat Lok Moli is a historically and culturally significant temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a rich history dating back to the Lanna Kingdom. It is known for its beautiful structures, stained glass decoration, and various annual religious and cultural activities.