Wat Phumin is a temple built in 1596 that resides in the Nan Province of Thailand. I visited here on my first day in Nan and was blown away by the idyllic surroundings and beautiful architecture. It is the only temple in Thailand to be built as if it laid on the back of two snakes. These snakes were built to symbolise the protection of the temple. The temple features four main entrances and is decorated in traditional Thai lue and Lana style, both of which are traditional designs from Northern Thailand. The main characteristics of this style are buildings which contain small windows, carved motifs along the doors and gables and tall teak pillars in the traditional red, black and gold colouring. These often include paintings of elephants. Wat Phumin is Nan's most famous temple due to its murals by the celebrated Thai Lu artist named Thit Buaphan.
Like most temples it is highly frowned upon to wear shoes during your visit and shoulder garments must be worn as a mark of respect to the Buddha. Shoes are removed to ensure the temple remains sacred and clean. Removing shoes also symbolises leaving demons and bad mental state on the outer temple, giving you peace of mind and freedom to pray upon entering.
Wat Phumin is a fully functioning temple serving as a Viharn (Assembly Hall) and Ubosot (Ordination Hall) where Buddhist ceremonies regularly take place, where monks often visit and in some cases where monks get ordained. Buddha images are kept as shrines in these temples and local people are able to come pray. Hundreds of years ago these temples were also used as shelter for travelling monks.
The alter features four large Buddhas, floral shrines and like most Buddha temples, an image of the King of Thailand. The particular style of Buddha is known as the Bhumisparsa Mudra also known as the 'Buddha Invoking Mother-Earth'. The Buddha can be seen with his hands pointing to the ground. The view of this Buddha was breath taking and upon entering the temple, I felt overtaken by spirituality. It's really hard to enter these temples and not associate yourself in some ways with the Buddhist way of life.
Above is an example of the tall teak pillars mentioned in the first paragraph. These are designed in traditional Thai Lu style with the colours red, black and gold. These pillars are finely decorated with gold leaf and feature Elephants and flowers. According to the website Thaizer.com:" In Buddhist legend it is believed that Queen Maya (mother of the Buddha) was only able to concieve after having a dream that a white elephant entered inside her' and another reason for the use of Elephants in temples is to symbolise the Ganesh - a Hindu god with an Elephant's head. These are just two of many reasons why the Elephant is in such high regard in Buddhist culture and Thailand.
Artist Thit Buaphan is a renowned painter in Thailand, most known for his contributions to temple design in the 19th century. The artist played a key role in the renovation of this temple when it was rebuilt in 1867 under the reign of Chao Ananta Vora Ritthi Det. Above is one of his most famous paintings known as the Thai Lovers Seduction or the Artist and his Lady, which resides on the temple wall in Wat Phumin. This mural is said to be one of the only self portraits of Thit Buaphan and has become legendary in Nan Province and this particular image can be seen on souvenirs across the city.
Have you ever visited a Thai Temple?
*This trip was courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand.