Lampang: Wat Mon Puyak

Lampang: Wat Mon Puyak

Table of Contents

Wat Mon Puyak: introduction

Wat Mon Puyak (วัดม่อนปู่ยักษ์) is another Burmese/Shan-style temple, located not far from Wat Mon Chamsin. Shan people founded this temple in 1899. Almost one hundred years later the Fine Arts Department registered this temple (1998), an acknowledgment that the temple is an “ancient monument”. The temple is also known as Wat Mon Santhan (วัดม่อนสันฐาน) and appears on Google Maps under this name. A sign on the roadside mentions the name Wat Mon Puyak, with the name Wat Mon Santhan behind it in brackets. On my last visit, this sign had disappeared.

Staircase to temple Burmese heritage lampang shan people
The Naga staircase leading to the temple, 2020

Shan and Pa’O people

According to Kiriya Chaiyakul three people funded the temple: Grandfather Kyaung Daga Noi, Kyaung Daga Kaeng, and Grandfather Seng Kanthawong. They were Shan and Pa’O people, most likely working for the Borneo Company or the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. These were British companies engaged in the teak logging industry in Burma and Siam. The temple clearly shows European influences as well. Another example of European influence on Shan/Burmese temple architecture is the restored pavilion of Wat Pha Lat on Doi Suthep.

The viharn in particular shows European influence in its design. See below a picture, taken from Wat Mon Cham Sin, which shows Wat Mon Puyak in the distance. I guess it dates back to the early 1920s. Also visible is a Burmese pyatthat style spire located next to the chedi. This structure has disappeared.

entrance way of temple Wat Mon Puyak
View of Wat Mon Puyak from Wat Mon Cham Sin. This photo is from the National Archives in Bangkok. Courtesy K.Manaspee Dacha

The Burmese-style chedi that disappeared

In the below pictures you can it even more clearly. The first picture shows the Burmese Pyatthat style tower, located between the monastery and the pagoda. I don’t know when this picture was taken. The caption says วัดม่อนปู่ยักษ์ในอดีต, meaning “Wat Mon Puyak in the past”. By the way, this also proves that people used the name Wat Mon Puyak in the past, not Wat Mon Santhan.

The second photograph I took in June 2021: the tower has disappeared. As far as I know, there is only one monk living in this temple. On my last visit, he wasn’t there so I couldn’t ask him. A major restoration of this temple took place in 2007. Did they demolish this Burmese-style chedi then or did it happen earlier? I will do more research in the coming months to find out what happened.

Old picture of temple Wat Mon Puyak
View on Wat Mon Puyak. Undated picture. Courtesy of K.Manaspee Dacha
View of a temple in the distance
View of Wat Mon Puyak in 2021 from almost the same spot. The Burmese style pagoda is not there anymore

The wooden monastery

A Naga staircase leads to the wooden monastery. It is a beautiful Shan-style building. On most of my visits, I found the monastery closed. When I was able to enter, the interior exceeded my expectations. The walls and ceiling are delicately decorated and there are a number of beautiful Buddha images.

I just guess that the interior is the work of craftsmen, who came over from Burma. This was the case with the construction of other Burmese/Shan-style temples in Lampang. Inside there are three Burmese-style Buddha statues in meditation posture that is known as Calling The Earth to Witness. The walls and the ceiling of the monastery are beautifully decorated.

Wooden temple Wat Mon Puyak
Monastery of Wat Mon Pu Yak, 2020
Three golden Buddha images
Buddha statues in the wooden monastery, 2020
Decorated ceiling Wat Mon Puyak
Ceiling of the monastery of Wat Mon Pu Yak

The Chedi and Viharn

The Chedi is Burmese style. Next to the chedi is the European-style viharn. I have been inside the viharn only once. I just arrived at the temple after a group of merit-making people had left. Volunteers were cleaning the building so I could shoot a couple of pictures. The walls are covered with beautiful paintings depicting the story of the Buddha but also showing scenes of life in Burma. At the far end of the building are Buddha images.

Chedi and viharn of Wat Mon Pu Yak
Buddha statues in a temple
Buddha statues in the viharn
Wall painting Wat Mon Puyak
Mural in the viharn

The Ubosot of Wat Mon Puyak

The ubosot (ordination hall) of the temple is a small building that also shows European influences. Inside is a Buddha statue. By the way, on the undated panoramic picture above both the ubosot and viharn had a flat roof. So, over time changes have been made to this temple. I hope to find out when they demolished the Burmese-style chedi and changed the roofs of both these buildings.
Temple building
The ubosot of Wat Mon Pu Yak, 2021

The sources for this article

I have visited this temple at least five times in the last two years. I have been inside the viharn, the ubosot and the monastery at least once. Other sources:

Wikipedia

Kiriya Chayakul, Burmese influenced architecture in Lampang Municipal District area from mid 19th-mid 20th century: A pilot study of relationship between architecture, community and landscape. Silpakorn University, Bangkok, 2009

Michael Freeman, Lanna, Thailand’s Northern Kingdom, Bangkok, 2001

 

Man in front of temple
Frans Betgem at Wat Mon Puyak

Visiting Wat Mon Puyak

On most of my visits, I found the temple deserted. Beware: on arrival at the Naga staircase you might be welcomed by a pack of temple dogs. This is not unusual. I am not easily scared of dogs in Thailand but they are noisy and obnoxious. No entrance fees at this temple. Wat Mon Puyak is east of highway no.1,  close to Wat Mon Cham Sin and the Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum and Factory, both also worth visiting.

Once you are in Lampang you will charter transportation to get there. You can also join us on of our Lampang tours. Wat Mon Puyak is not on the tourist trail. It is too far for horse carriages.

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