Wat Chiang Mun
This is the first temple built in the city. It was constructed in 1296 by King Mengrai. It has been restored many times but the style is essentially the same. The entrance is guarded by Burmese style lions. The Viharn contains many Burmese features along with old Thai These is a veranda across the front with low hanging decorations between the front pillars which differs from the modern Thai style one sees in Bangkok. The design is one of golden angels and foliage on blue. The gable is one of the old northern Thai panel type, very artistic with touches of gold and red. There also is an intricately carved three-head elephant, Erawan, surmounted by a crown.
Inside, the Viharn is divided into nave and aisles by twelve teak pillars. The high alter is very unusual. It seems to be a composite of the Burmese and Hindu styles. It consists of five graduated semi-spheres with a spire top. Inside this tower sits a small Buddha. Outside the tower are nine other small Buddhas. In front of this sits a large gilled Buddha with an expressive face. In front of this large Buddha is a model of the Buddha Sila, which, when carried in procession with libation of water poured over it, will bring rain. The real Buddha Sila is kept in the abbot’s quarters for fear it will be stolen. One may see it on request. It shows Buddha in bas-relief, not in the round. To one side of Buddha is a kneeling elephant. It is reported to have made by the King Ajasatru even years after Buddha attained Nivana. It was brought from Ceylon by Kasob Thera in 1290. Beside the altar is an attractive square receptacle with a square umbrella above it. This is for the display of the real Buddha Sila during ceremonies.
There is another important Buddha called Pra Setanga Manee. It is made of precious white stone on a solid gold base. It is one of the images that King Mengrai took from Haripoonchai in 1281. On the interior walls of the Viharn are nine murals in too bright colors, of no artistic merit.
Returning to the outside of the outside of the Viharn on the south is a new Sala with grillwork doors for the precious images when they are bought outside for veneration by the people. It is covered with modern tiles.
The Bot is very small as compared to the Viharn. It is surrounded by Bai Sema in a disk and post design. They were possibly put in at different periods.
Behind the Viharn is a very large Chedi supported by fifteen life size elephants. Chiangmun means “strong and powerful city” and the elephant is a symbol of strength.