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Friday, November 07, 2014

Chiangmai - Lamphun Part 4 [Wiang Khum Kham]

Wiang Khum Kham Location - between Km 3-4 along Chiang Mai-Lamphun route, Tambon Wang Tan, Amphoe Saraphi, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Entrance is free.
Wieng Kum Kam is recently-discovered lost city formed in 1286 during the reign of King Mengrai. Historians have found that Wieng Kum Kam was a slightly large city, with an inner part framed by reservoirs. The city of Wieng Kum Kam contained numerous religious structures, but only twenty structures that were found, such as Wat Chang Kham, Wat That Noi, Wat E Kang, Wat Pu Pia, Wat Ku Khao, Wat Hua Nong and Wat Pu Song.
You can walk around the main ones and go on horse carts to see some others. Cost 200THB for 1 hour ride.  But it is impossible to see all of them.We only see Wat Chang Kham, Wat E Kang and Wat That Noi. You may need to spend about an hour here.

According to Thais, King Mengrai in the 13th century who was supposed to have built Wiang Khum Kham before deciding it wasn’t a great spot – too close to the flood prone Ping River – and moving his capital to Chiang Mai instead, whereupon Khum Kham was abandoned.  
From the extent of the ruins it’s clear the city must have been occupied over a lengthy period by a large number of people. The ruins cover a period from the 11th century right up until the 16th and 17th centuries [including Mon/ Dvaravati, Mon/Khmer/Sukhothai and Thai Lanna periods], so was obviously never completely abandoned until the 18th century when there were some catastrophic floods which really did finish the place off and covered all the remains in a layer of river mud under which they stayed hidden until recently [The first ruins were uncovered in the 1980s and some are only being excavated now].
Wat Chang Kham [Wat Kan Thome] - this temple consists of a Vihara facing the west and a Mandapa which connected to the back of the Vihara, houses of the Buddha image. King Mengrai built this in 1290.  There is a Chedi of which the basement is 12 m wide and 18 m high.  The Chedi has double niches in each direction.  The lower niches contain 4 seated Buddha and the upper one enshrine with a standing Buddha.  There are also 2 followers of Buddha [Mokalana and Saributa] - Indra and Nang Torani of the Mother of Earth.  There are Haripunchai Buddha tablets and red sandstone inscriptions in 3 kinds of alphabets.  The temple was restored in 1984.
Wat E-Kang [Wiang Khum Kham]
The grounds of Wat E-Kang used to be deserted and overgrown, inhabited only by monkeys. Kang means monkey in northern dialect, thus the locals call this temple Wat E-Kang. The Department of Fine Arts started the excavation work in 1985 and found a chedi behind a viharn which faces north towards a branch of the Ping River. Later in 2003 the excavation team found traces of a wall in the west of the chedi. More excavation work is done.
The chedi of Wat E-Kang remains mostly intact. It is a bell-shaped chedi on a high lotus base with torus moulding and is situated on the same base as the viharn. The base of the chedi is wide enough for a ritual walk around. Of the viharn only a big base is left. On the floor of the viharn are traces of bases for 16 pillars. There are stairways in front and on one side of the viharn, decorated with northern spiral designs.
From the architecture and the fact that plates of Fak Kham and Lanna Dhamma alphabets were found in the area, it is estimated that this temple is dated back to the 16th - 17th centuries.

Wat That Noi [Wiang Khum Kham]
This temple is situated west of Wat Chang Kham [Kanthom].  There is no record of this temple in any historical documents therefor it is called 'Thatnoi' after the small size of the Chedi.  This temple used to be covered with soil of 60-70 cm.  The Department of Fine Arts did an excavation and a restoration in 1985-1986 and found that this temple comprised a Vihara and a Chedi.  The Vihara faced northeast was rectangular in shape with 2 stairways, one in the front and the other by the side.  The floor of the Vihara was made of bricks and there were traces of pillar bases made of laterites with bricks laid on top.  At the back of the Vihara was a niche for the principal limed Buddha image.  Now only the base of the niche and the 2m wide lower part of the Buddha image remain.  The Chedi was behind the Vihara, now only the lowest base remains.  Important artifacts found from the excavation were a terracotta Buddha  tablet, stucco of divinity's head, giant and mythical animals such as Naga Kinnom and bird or swan.  From its architectural style, this temple id dated in the 14-15th centuries AD.

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