Wat Loi Kroh, the Chiang Saen Temple
The temple of the people from Chiang Saen
Wat Loi Kroh (วัดลอยเคราะห์) is a temple located on Loi Kroh Road 65. Although the temple is on a tourist street, very few tourists visit Wat Loi Kroh. The temple has a very interesting history though. People constructed this temple during the reign of King Kue Na (1355-1385), the 6th king of the Mangrai Dynasty of the Lanna Kingdom. Its original name was Wat Roi Kho.
Roughly between 1558 and 1774 the Lanna Kingdom was part of a Burmese empire. After many years of revolts and bloody fighting Kawila, a nobleman of Lampang, liberated Chiang Mai with the help of the Siamese king Taksin. The Burmese occupation and years of warfare left Chiang Mai deserted and in ruins. In 1802 Kawila paid homage to the King of Siam and became the new ruler of Chiang Mai, the first king of the Chet Ton Dynasty.
The reconstruction of Chiang Mai
The reign of Kawila is known as the period of the restoration of Chiang Mai. He started repopulating Chiang Mai and Lamphun, which later became known as the time of “gathering and putting vegetables into baskets and gathering and relocating people into towns”. While restoring Chiang Mai and Lamphun, Kawila and his troops went around the neighboring city-states in the region persuading and forcibly convincing people to come and live in the two cities. Kawila was able to spread his sovereignty over Chiang Tung, Chiang Rung, and various towns in Sibsong Panna, and a number of towns in the valley of the Salawin River.
Kawila conquers Chiang Saen
In 1804, Kawila retook Chiang Saen from the Konbaung dynasty, the last dynasty that ruled Burma from 1752 to 1885. To prevent a future revival of the military power of Chiang Saen, Kawila left the walled city in ruins and forced its population to move to Lampang, Chiang Mai, and other towns in the Lanna kingdom.
Villagers from Ban Hom, a settlement near Chiang Saen, moved to Chiang Mai and settled in the Loi Kroh neighborhood, where there was this ruined place of worship: Wat Roi Kho. They rebuilt what was left of this temple and renamed it Wat Loi Kroh. I guess all the buildings of Wat Loi Kroh date back to this time or later.
Some facts about Wat Loi Kroh
The temple is open from 0600 until 1900 every day. There is no entrance fee. Please dress respectfully. The temple is the starting point of some of our samlor tours.
References for this article
I couldn’t find much information about Wat Loi Kroh apart from the story on an information board at the temple. Information about King Kawila and the restoration of Lanna you can find in:
Sarassawadee Ongsakul, History of Lanna, Chiang Mai, 2005