Photographer's Note

When in Chiang Mai or in North Thailand, the flavour or the most commonly used word one hears is ‘Lanna’. Historically and culturally Lanna refers to the northern Thai kingdom, founded in Chiang Saen but for much of its incarnation centered around Chiang Mai, and which lasted from the 13th to 18th centuries. So most older buildings, principally wats (temples), are classified as Lanna style.

Burmese influence was strong in Northern Thailand as they established rule here directly or indirectly for centuries. Their presence had a striking influence on the local Lanna architecture & created a fusion of the two styles.

Wat Saen Fang is one of the most important temples in the east of Chiang Mai city is one such Wat or temple, which epitomizes this confluence of styles…. featuring a Lanna style prayer hall viharn, and a Burmese style chedi (an alternative term for a Buddhist stupa, mainly used in Thailand).

The temple's origins go back to the 14th century, but the architecture is late 19th century Burmese. The temple displays many Burmese details, such as in the shape of the highly decorated chedi with its rainbow of mirrored tiles. This chedi and the ordination hall (ubosot) on the west side of the compound were built during the Burmese occupation of Chiang Mai. The prayer hall (viharn), on the right is in the Lanna style and had served as the Royal Hall. Thus Wat Saen Fang like quite a few Wats in Chiang Mai is a confluence of two architectural styles & the influence of Burmese style is strong. Indeed, the elaborately carved exterior and use of rich colors like gold and blue reminded us of the Wat’s glorious past.

An unpretentious entrance on Tha Phae Road leads to the delightful Wat Saen Fang & hence can be easily missed. A narrow alley flanked by two nagas or serpents opens into a picturesque precinct with a beautifully kept garden, lovely chedi in the Burmese style and a viharn with richly gilded carving on the façades.

Took this picture in the falling light which cast pastel tones on the magnificent Chedi with the rosy grey sky as the backdrop.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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