Buddhism in Thailand can be considered to be an art to be admired. This country is famous for its many historic temples, legends and tales that demonstrate how strongly this philosophy has been etched into the culture and lifestyles of the Thais. An important temple to appreciate the Thai devotion to Buddhism is the Wat Phra That Doi Ngam Muang. Located in the beautiful city of Chiang Rai, the Wat Ngammuang stands as the city’s most important shrine and is a popular stopover for any one visiting Chiang Rai.
Wat Ngammuang literally means ‘beautiful city’ and stands true to its name in architecture and its magnificent interior. The temple is located in between Doi Tong and Wat Phra Kaeo and also has the distinction of being the oldest building in the city. Wat Ngammuang originally dates back to the 15th century but was later renovated in 1677. The major historical significance of this temple is that it is the resting place of the ashes of King Mengrai the Great. King Mengrai died in 1311 in the city of Chiang Rai after being struck by lightning in the city’s marketplace. He was succeeded by Prince Khram who was subsequently known as King Chaisongkhram. The new king put up a small stupa to house the ashes of his father and the great Wat Ngammuang was constructed around this Chedi. The temple has an interesting architecture and houses a number of beautiful Buddha statues.
There is a significant long naga staircase that leads to a Wiharn. This Wiharn is popularly admired for its beautiful red and gold decorations. Although today the temple is prayed at and visited by plenty of tourists, in the past during the Burmese rule, the temple was abandoned and the stupa was plundered. It was only in 1952 that the temple was comprehensively renovated and brought to the standards of its current glory.