Chiang Rai: the Tu Pu Cave Temple

Bicycle with lions and chedi

The Tu Pu Cave Temple

Samnaksong Tu Pu (ปู่สำนักสงฆ์ตุ๊ปู่) is also known as Tu Pu Cave Temple or Tu Pu Priest’s Camp Site. I think you can describe it as the residence of the living place of forest monks. It is located in a limestone mountain about 5 km from Chiang Rai on the road to the Karen village Ban Ruam Mitr. According to an article from the website of Thai News the abbot of Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang Rai is responsible for this cave temple. Allegedly, there have been plans to restore the Tu Pu Cave Temple but they have not materialized.

At the entrance of the complex, there are two statues of lions and a gilded chedi, which are in fairly decent condition. From there I had to make my way through tall grass and shrubbery to the staircase that leads to the cave. Everything is in very poor shape and overgrown. That always has its charm but a bit of maintenance would be a good idea, to say the least.

Beautiful Buddha images in a rock wall

This Cave Temple is a lovely place with a stunning setting. What makes the place very special are the three Buddha images carved out in the limestone rock wall. Furthermore, there are two salas with smaller Buddha statues. A first staircase, guarded by two lion statues, leads to a platform from where you have to continue on another short rocky staircase to the entrance of the cave.

Inside you will first find a statue of what looks like a female hermit or maybe a Bhikkuni. Inside the cave is a white sitting Buddha statue. It is dark in the cave so be sure of your footing: it is slippery. I didn’t see any evidence that there are monks living here. I enjoyed visiting the Tu Pu Cave Temple, even though it was in such a poor state. If you go there I recommend wearing long trousers and good shoes. The grass and shrubbery is quite high and the surface uneven.

Two Buddha carvings
Carved Buddhas in the rockwall