Wat Sri Chum, the Burmese Temple
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The Burmese temple of Lampang
Wat Sri Chum is a Burmese Buddhist temple in Lampang. Burmese immigrants funded the construction, in which Burmese carpenters and craftsmen were involved. Before they established this temple in 1893 there was an old temple in a forest of boddhi trees at this location. There was a pond and a “zayat”(a building for resting and lodging) but no monks.
The word Sri stands for bodhi tree. The word Chum is short for Chumnum which means “gathering”. The Burmese who funded the construction of Wat Sri Chum were Kyaung Daga U Yo, his daughter Me Liang Pounge and her husband U Maung Gyi. The Burmese name of this temple is Nyuang Waign Kyuang. The Fine Arts Department registered the temple as an ancient monument on October 27th, 1981.
Old photographs of the temple
In front of the temple are a number of food stalls, evidence that this is one of the more visited Burmese temples of Lampang. During most of my visits there were other visitors.
K.Manaspee Dacha provided the below picture. I guess it was taken in the 1930s. It shows the viharn or main monastery with a lot of people posing in front of it. They are all probably from the Burmese or Shan community. The man with the umbrella stands out and appears to be a prominent member of the community. The monks might be local or Burmese as well, who knows. It is a fascinating photograph.
The Viharn of Wat Sri Chum
Information about this temple is hard to get by. There are three main building: the viharn, the ubosot and the pagoda. Kyaung Daga U Yo funded the construction of the viharn in 1900. The roof of the mondop is the Phyatthat, typical for Burmese royal and Buddhist architecture. It is a multistaged roof, with an odd number of tiers (from three to seven). The roof has seven tiers. As local craftsmen were not skilled in this kind of work, Kyaung Daga U Yo brought in craftsmen and carpenters from Mandalay. The viharn that you see today is not the original building.
The fire of 1992
Unfortunately a devastating fire destroyed the original wooden viharn in 1992. After that they rebuilt the viharn with brick and plaster. They have done a fine job.
The restoration, initiated by the Fine Arts Department, took place in 1995-96. They used old photographs as examples for the restoration. Allegedly craftsmen from Myanmar were not involved, which has been criticized by some people because it would have given a local touch to the decorations. A second restoration took place in 2001. Inside the viharn of Wat Sri Chum are a Buddha statue and a couple of boards with old photographs of Lampang.
K.Manaspee Dacha provided the pictures of the viharn in flames and the building after the fire. I took the third photograph in 2021.
The small Ubosot and Pagoda
This is the second lovely and beautiful building next to the pagoda. An ubosot is an ordination hall. They finished the construction of the ubosot in 1901. Ten venerable monks came over from Burma to consecrate it. Inside the building is a Buddha statue as well as a plaque with information about the history of the temple and photographs of the founders. This building has not been affected by the fire of 1992 and is thus in original state. The beautiful roof has five pyatthat “spires”. The pagoda dates from 1949.
References for Wat Sri Chum
I have visited Wat Sri Chum numerous times in the past couple of years. I consulted the following sources:
Sarassawadee Ongsakul, History of Lanna, Chiang Mai, 2005
Michael Freeman, Lanna, Thailand’s Northern Kingdom, Bangkok, 2001
Hans Penth, A brief history of Lanna, Chiang Mai, 2000
David K. Wyatt and Aroonrut Wichienkeeo, The Chiang Mai Chronicle, Chiang Mai, 1998
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
How to get to Wat Sri Chum?
The address of the temple is 211 Tippawan Road, Amphoe Muang, Lampang. Horse carts can go there but I have never seen one at this temple. You can charter a yellow and green songtaew.
There is no entrance fee at the temple but a donation box with a sign asking foreigners to donate.
Wat Sri Chum is on this map: