Wat Sun Pa Yang Luang
Wat Sun Pa Yang Luang (วัดสันป่ายางหลวง) is located just north of the moat of old Lamphun. Don’t expect anything old in this temple. Most of the structures have been built within the last 20 years. It is nevertheless a spectacular temple with a very interesting history. I met the very friendly abbot Phra Khru Panya Thammawat.
He told me that the temple was built on top of some of the oldest structures in Northern Thailand. Apparently there was a Hindu shrine at this location which was altered to a Buddhist shrine in 531 AD, This was the first Buddhist temple in the Lanna Kingdom (Northern Thailand). The name of this temple was Wat Kom Lampong. Queen Chamathewi, the first ruler of Lamphun, used to study and practice Buddhism here. Her remains were cremated at this location. Queen Chamadevi is historically a somewhat shadowy figure. Believed to have been a 6th or 7th C. Mon princess of Lopburi, sent to found and rule the city of Haripunchai (modern-day Lamphun), she is credited with bringing the benefits of civilisation – Buddhism among them – to the North. But if the history is fragmentary, the legends that have accreted and are still current about her in this part of the North are fully-fleshed and highly-coloured – sensational, even.
The temple was then re-named Wat Sun Pa Yang Luang after the Yang Na, the giant gum trees that were abundant here. These trees shoot to the top of the canopy and can live over 700 years. Their Thai name “Yang Na” is a composite of 2 words “Yang” meaning resin or rubber and “Na” meaning ricefields. This tree was commonly found in and around ricefields.
As I wrote before all the buildings of the temple were constructed in recent times, during the abbacy of Phra Khru Panya Thammawat. It is an extremely interesting temple with fantastic craftsmanship, a huge bell and several beautiful Buddha images. I can be visited on one of our customized day tours to Lamphun.