Wat Suchadaram, the Chiang Saen Temple
Table of Contents
Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Suchadaram
The Wat Suchadaram is on the same compound as the much bigger Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao. In 1984 the Ministry of Education decided to “merge” these temples into one complex and renamed it “Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Suchadaram. Wat Suchadaram has a viharn (assembly hall), ubosot (ordination hall) and a chedi or pagoda.
Legend of Chao Mae Suchada
The legend of Chao Mae Suchada is a well-known story in Lampang. In the Bhumi Lakon Museum the story is an important theme of the exhibition. It centers around a woman who was mistakenly executed on order of the local ruler. This took place in the 6th century during a time when the people in the area suffered from a famine. Chao Mae Suchada received a watermelon from a monk. She then broke the watermelon open, which contained a green gem. This gem turned into a Buddha image with the assistance of the God Indra.
For some reason the local ruler became suspicious of the relationship of Chao Mae Suchada and the monk and sentenced them to death. The monk escaped but Chao Mae Suchada was executed. Before she died she put a curse on the town if it became clear that she was innocent. When another famine broke out, the king found out that Chao Mae Suchada was innocent, invoking her curse. Some people in Lampang now think that the curse is responsible for the fact that Lampang lost its position as the economic and political center of North Thailand to Chiang Mai.
To honor Chao Mae Suchada the people of Lampang decided to name the temple after her.
The buildings of the temple
Wat Suchadaram has a large, beautiful white chedi on a rectangular base. I have found no information about the construction date yet.
The viharn is named Viharn Lai Kham. The roof has three tiers. It looks like a typical Lanna temple design to me. Two Chinthes, lion-like creatures that guard Burmese temples, and chedis, flank the entrance. The front has beautiful carvings.
I was fortunate to get access to the viharn. It is often closed. Inside there are beautiful, colorful murals that have not stood up to the test of times unfortunately. There are three Buddha statues in this viharn.
I have seen some old photographs of the ubosot (ordination hall). It looks like a wonderful structure. At this moment it is undergoing restoration. During my last visit, there were workers present at the site. According to a banner the restoration should be finished on September 5, 2021.
The ubosot already underwent several restorations: in 1922, 1960, and 2007. The building has been constructed with wood and brick and has murals in Chiang Saen style.
Sources on Wat Suchadaram
I have visited the temple several times. These are some of the sources:
Information at the temple
The Bhumi Lakon Museum, Lampang
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
Some facts about Wat Suchadaram
The Wat Suchadaram is on Pratu Ma road in Wiang Nuea district, north of the Wang River. It shares the compound with Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao. You can either go there by charted songtaew or by horse carriage. It is on one of the touristic routes of the horse carriages.
The Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Suchadaram is open every day from 0600 until 1800. Unfortunately the chedi is not illuminated after dark.
There is a ticket booth. Entrance fee for the whole complex is 20THB per person.
This map shows the location:
Frans Betgem, June, 2021