Also known as Tunnel temple, Wat Umong is one of the most unique temples of Thailand mostly because of its ‘amidst-the-forest’ location and a number of intriguing networks of tunnels. The temple was built by king Mengrai in the 13th century; it is said that as the kingdom grew crowded the monks found it difficult to meditate because of the distractions. The king ordered the digging of various tunnels so that the monks can meditate in the tunnels away from the crowd, they were lined with walls and the shrines were added later with the murals on the walls.
Temple of Tunnels
The English translation of its full name ‘Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham’ is ‘Temple of tunnels and Buddha Dhamma garden’; all the tunnels have their own Buddha images where the devotees can pray and pay their respects. Owing to its location which is perfect for meditation- it also has a meditation center where meditation classes and Dhamma related talks are organized. There is also a replica of Ashok pillar at one of the gardens and it is as old as the temple itself. The pillar has four lions at its top with a Dhamma wheel over them and just like other Asoka pillars that were constructed during the spread of Buddhism in the 3rd Century BC. This pillar also holds inscription about the details of spreading Buddhism that were originally set by Asoka.
How to Reach?
Located on the West of Chiang Mai, Wat Umong is about 1500 meters south via Suthep road. There are many options through which one can teach the temple- taxi, tuk-tuk, songthaew and samlor or else one can rent a car in Chiang Mai Downtown and ride to Wat Umong via route 3029 in a couple of minutes rather than struggling for public transport.
Finding a ride for the back journey can be a bit difficult, hence one should make one’s ride wait for you till you are finished visiting.