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LEXICON

 

 

Wat Suan Dok (วัดสวนดอก)

Thai. ‘Flower Garden Temple’. Name of a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai. The temple was founded in 1370 AD by King Keua Nah (fig.), who between 1355 and 1389 was the ruler of Lan Na, in order to house a relic of the Buddha, which was discovered by the Ceylonese monk Sumanathera in Sri Satchanalai, as he traveled frequently between this city and Sukhothai to spread Theravada Buddhism. The King in 1369 invited Sumanathera to come to Chiang Mai, but since the temple was not yet ready to receive the monk nor the relic, Sumanathera stayed at Wat Phra Yeun in Lamphun for two years. Meantime construction of the temple started in the centre of Wiang Suan Dok, an at that time already existing walled settlement of the Lawa people, that predates Chiang Mai and which is located approximately one kilometer to the West of Chiang Mai's city walls. When in 1371, the temple was ready, it was discovered that the relic had been miraculously split in two, with one part being of the same size as the original relic. The smaller relic was subsequently enshrined in the newly completed pagoda in Wat Suan Dok, where it remains today; the other half of the relic was later placed in the chedi of Wat Doi Suthep (fig.). The temple compound of Wat Suan Dok is home to one of the northern campuses of the Buddhist University Mahawithayahlay Maha Chulalongkorn Racha Withayahlay, which is a centre for Buddhist languages, as well as for wipatsanah, a form of meditation, and for a while it had Phra Kruh Bah Chao, i.e. Kanchana Aranyawasi (fig.), amongst its students. Its pagoda features on a Thai postage stamp, issued in 1973 (fig.), though today the chedi is completely gilded.