Wat Pong Sanuk
Viharn Phra Chao Pun Ong within Wat Pong Sanuk is a jewel of Mahayan Buddhist architecture in the Lanna Kingdom.
Its towering three-tiered roofs speak very lively of its Lanna and Burmese heritage, with some sprinkling of Chinese influence, too.
Being a cross-shaped viharn makes it also the only one of its kind in Thailand.
Although what makes it truly special is totally hidden from view.
Up until November 2004, Wat Pong Sanuk and Viharn Phra Chao Pun Ong were in a sorry state. See the old viharn.
The damages from World War II, the decades of neglect that followed and the vandalism done on the roof of the viharn that allowed rain and moisture to enter and decay the structures, Viharn Phra Chao Pun Ong was falling apart.
Several well-intentioned repairs did not fully help either and added new structures that were not in the original build.
The turn for the better came when the Pong Sanuk community, professional architects from Chiangmai University, sponsors and UNESCO banded together to save the wat and the viharn.
Restorations were started in November 2004 and completed in February 2008.
In short, what we see today is the result of the pitching in by the various stakeholders to save Wat Pong Sanuk and Viharn Phra Chao Pun Ong – and that makes the results very special.
“The participation of community members in the maintenance and repair of religious structures has a long history in northern Thailand. The Wat Pongsanuk project helped to revive these practices… This is a positive development for future projects in the region, as well as for the preservation of Thailand’s fast disappearing heritage assets more generally.”
Pongsanuk, which literally means ‘community of fun’ is actually derived from a place of the same name in Chiang Saen District of Chiang Rai Province.
Residents from that area moved to Lampang some 200 years ago and established Pongsanuk community in this province.