Wat Sri Suphan – The Breathtaking Chiang Mai Silver Temple
Wat Sri Suphan also called The Silver Temple is truly one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai. This unique temple is almost completely clad in silver. It is one of a kind in Thailand and perhaps in Asia.
CHIANG MAI SILVER TEMPLE
Wat Sri Suphan is also known as the Silver Temple because the entire surface of the temple, inside and out, is being covered in sparkling silver handcrafted decoration. Originally built around 1500 Wat Sri Suphan is also one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai.
Wat Sri Suphan is an amazing, unique and intrinsic work of architectural marvel built entirely by the skilled traditional workers from the local community. Even if you’re not a temple fan, or you think that you’ve seen enough temple in Chiang Mai already, this temple’s unique nature and being the only one of its kind in Thailand still make it worth the visit.
The temple is located at Wualai District, Chiang Mai’s traditional silver-making village just south of the old city. Due to its location in a quiet neighbourhood, Wat Sri Suphan is relatively unknown and doesn’t see a lot of tourists compared with the temples on the mountain and inside the historical old city.
Wat Sri Suphan is spectacular yet not touristy as it’s slightly outside the city walls. The entire surface of the temple, inside and out, is being covered in silver.
Crafted out of silver and aluminium, the Silver Temple sits within the silversmith district and showcases the intricate work of the local people.
As one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Sri Suphan was originally built in the 16th century during the Mangrai Dynasty when the 11th king of Lanna Kingdom, Phra Muang Kaew, ruled the kingdom between 1495 and 1525.
Since the original construction, the temple have been rebuilt and renovated over the different historical periods and in modern time.
Today’s Silver Temple is the result of a renovation from 2008 to 2016 performed by the silver craftsman in the surrounding Wua Lai community who have built up an impressive knowledge of fine metalwork over many generations.
Wat Sri Suphan is a modern architectural marvel built entirely by the skilled traditional workers from the local community.
Wat Sri Suphan is a unique and exquisite modern interpretation of traditional Lanna design. From the walls to the roff, the temple is completely covered in a combination of silver, nickel, and aluminum. Even the Buddha statues are covered in silver.
Most of the work is carried out using aluminium (areas where silver isn’t practical) with precious silver being reserved for the holy images and the most crucial architectural elements. However that should not detract from the actual workmanship itself as it’s incredible and highly detailed.
Wat Sri Suphan is a small but impressive silver construction, the details are majestic and you certainly will lost some minutes observing every inch of the building’s detailed artwork.
When viewed up closed you can see great variety of decorations pounded into the silver panels on both sides of the temple with incredibly detailed silver carving displaying scenes and key moments from the life of Buddha.
You’ll also see figures from rural life, religious mythology, the zodiac animals etc. Although this isn’t pure silver but an aluminum-silver alloy, it looks pretty real and beautifully crafted.
The great variety of decorations pounded into the silver plates on the outer surface of the building.
The details are so majestic you certainly will lost some minutes observing every inch of the building.
Like many other temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Sri Suphan offers a “monk chat” session where visitors can talk with the monk about Buddhism. If you are interested you can join them on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
On the same days there’s also a meditation program open to the public, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. These programs are free but donations are always welcomed (at the little donation boxes).
Visitors can also check out the silversmith workshop there to see the craftsmen and monks at work creating metal plates. There is a silver making short-course (not free) but requires a reservation one day in advance. See also the exhibition hall explaining the silverworks, and the biographies and sample works of famous artisans.
Note that females are forbidden to enter the ordination hall but allowed to walk freely anywhere else. However since the hall is small you can see most of the inside standing in front of the temple. And the best view is from the outside or garden to admire the entire piece of art.
Reason? Be merciful. The sacred, precious items, spells and amulets buried beneath the base of the ordination hall 500 years ago may cause “deterioration” to people with pure spirit especially women, according to old Lanna tradition.
Inside the ordination hall – a mix of silvers, mirrors and bright colours make it stand out nearly as much as the exterior.
Chiang Mai Silver Temple is located right next to the street where the popular Wualai Walking Street i.e the Saturday Night Market takes place. If you are staying in the old city, you can walk to this temple as the distance is just 600 meters from the old city’s Chiang Mai Gate.
On Saturday the temple closes at 9.00pm so it’s best to combine your visit here with the Saturday Night Market. At night the entire temple is lit up in some fantastic colours that changed every few minutes, made for impressive photos.
Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple)
Opening Hours: 6.00am-5.30pm every day (except Saturday closed at 9.30pm).
Location: Wualai Rd., Chiang Mai.
Admission: 50 Baht.
At night the temple beautifully lit and then shines purple-blue. The colourful lights made for impressive photos.
Even if you’re not a temple fan, or you think that you’ve seen enough temple in Chiang Mai already, the Silver Temple’s unique nature still makes it worth the visit.
Wat Sri Suphan is a unique and exquisite modern interpretation of traditional Lanna design built entirely by skilled traditional workers from the local community.
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