Wat Umong Buddhist Chant

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  • Wat Umong Buddhist Chant 00:00
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This is the recording of a Buddhist chant at Wat Umong, Ciang Mai Thailand. The monks would chant in a closed space, while I record it from outside near a window. It was around five in the afternoon. 

There is an interesting story about Wat Umong, the famous tunnel temple. However, the story is still vague due to insufficient document supporting it. What is clear is that this temple has been here for hundreds of year. 

There are two versions of how the temple was built. The first story tells us that the temple was built by king Mengrai, the first king of the Lanna Empire and the creator of Chiang Mai. A local legend says that the king consulted to a monk who lived in Wat Umong Maha Thera Chan, a temple located within the old city Chiang Mai. The monk, named Thera Chan, used the tunnels as a place to meditate. As Chiang Mai grew bigger and more populated, the monk had trouble meditating in peace. King Mengrai wanted to relocate the monk, and ordered the creation of a tunnel outside of the city near the border of Doi Suthep Mountain. The tunnel was built with bricks and decorated with Buddhist mural. This tunnel was the ideal place for the monk to meditate in peace. The tunnel was built to block the noise from the city.

However, this legend is doubted by archaeologists, historian, and philologists who studied the Wat Umong. The reason is because the art that decorates the walls of the tunnel was identified to be from a later period in history, around 1380 to 1450. They also suspect that the jedi in Wat Umong was from an even later period, around 1450 to 1550. Unfortunately, there is no inscription that explains this.

In the year 1948, this temple was renovated and then reopened as the centre of meditation and Buddhist teachings. I do not want to explain too much about the history of Wat Umong. Today, Wat Umong is an active temple with monks inhabiting it. Monks, who wear kasaya, live in this spacious complex of Wat Umong surrounded by trees.

I was taken away by the peaceful chants of the monks. It has to be mentioned that I did not record this from inside the tunnel, rather from outside of a room a few hundred metres away from the Wat Umong tunnel. The area around Wat Umong was still peaceful, and not like the bustling city of Chiang Mai. Even though, you can still hear the sound of planes flying across above me. I could only imagine the serenity of this area before machines were founded by humankind. Serenity is an important part of prayers.

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