Wat Jet Yod
Wat Jet Yod
Wat Jet Yod, or 7 Peaks Temple, is located in the heart of tourist town Chaing Rai and is therefore highly visited by tourists. The temple is average size for a Thai Buddhist temple, and is not very old so it doesn’t get a lot of attention from local tourism promotion. The fact that it’s a very typical Thai temple may just be the best reason to visit it, however, as it gives a great example of normal temple life.
According to signs (Thai only) and young monks dying saffron robes, Wat Jet Yod was constructed on the site of a ruined older temple to consolidate the religious activity of 7 different villages in the area in 1844. Behind the main hall, the wihaan, you’ll find a stupa with 7 spires to commemorate these communities. A quick tour around the grounds will show you a look at daily life for monks. You can walk past their Spartan little bungalows (known as kuti in pali, Buddhism’s holy language) and see orange laundry out to dry in the sun with dogs, cats, and chickens darting around. At the back of the temple is a school building that is part of Chiang Rai ‘monk university’ and also hosts Sunday school lessons in the dharma.
Around the back of the big wihaan is the 7-spired stupa and another, smaller monument surrounding an old bodhi tree to commemorate the holy tree under which the Buddha first meditated to attain enlightenment. As at most Thai temples, there are ample sculptures of the Buddha in varying postures as well as statuettes of important monks and other spirits left for blessings and good luck. The main attraction of this temple is the main hall, which hosts an impressive seated Buddha statue (subduing Mara posture) towering over a deep hall decorated in murals of the Buddha’s past lives. Unfortunately these murals have recently been repainted in a style not unlike what you might have airbrushed onto the side of your rocker van. By far the most interesting feature of Jet Yod is the ceiling over the entrance to the great hall. Look up, way up, and you see an unusual peeling example of bizarre and complicated Thai cosmology with the 12 animals of the zodiac represented in patterns akin to the snakes and ladders board game.
7 Peaks Temple is usually a laid-back and quiet spot to visit when you are having a lazy day in Chiang Rai, a place where you can slow down and get a peek into the Thai lifestyle by spying on both monks and devotees.