Wat Chalong (Chaithararam Temple) – Phuket
If you are the kind of person who travels just to enjoy the history and culture of various places, then you will love the Wat Chalong temple when in Phuket. The temple’s official name is Wat Chaitararam. The temple was built early 19th century, as some sources say, it was built in 1837 precisely.
Considered one of the top things to do in Phuket, the temple is a sight to behold. Located along Chao Fa West Road, North of Tambol Chalong, this Buddhist temple is a historical landmark that the Thai people are proud of. It is known worldwide for being the largest, most honored and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket. It is one of the must see places to go whenever you are in Phuket – whether you love history or not. Plus, you get to kill two birds with one stone because it is relatively close to the Big Buddha of Phuket.
For years on end, the Thai people go and pray there every day. As for tourists, they learn about Buddhism while they are on holiday in Phuket. And there have been claims that the temple experiences miracles. And people believe in its pivotal and healing role it played in the fight between Chinese secret societies (Angyee) in 1876.
Some remnants of older buildings have been found here but people have no idea exactly how old they are. The grounds of the temple contain a viharn, a mondop, a ubosot, a chedi which has a secret relic, a sala and a crematorium.
Things to see in Wat Chalong Phuket
One of the most important Budhist statues within the temple is Poh Than Jao Wat. There are also 2 statues of an old man known as Ta Khee-lek. As history goes, Ta Khee-lek was a famous local who was famous for winning many lotteries after he consulted the statue of Poh Than Jao Wat. The other important statue in the hall is that of Nonsi.
As you explore you will come across a guilt covered statue Luang Poh Cham in one of the Wat Chalong’s halls. Here you will also find a display of two temple ex-abbots, Luang Poh Chuang and Luang Poh Gleum.
The highlight of the temple is a tall building, 60 meters’ tall stupa (chedi), which contains a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone. The temple’s walls and ceilings have intricate wall paintings depicting the most significant points of Buddha’s life story.
The Chedi is built on three floors. You will also feast your eyes on large donated golden statues on each floor so don’t hesitate to climb to the top to get the beautiful bird’s view of the entire temple grounds. As you walk ahead, you will get a large display of the much anticipated Buddha’s bone splinter. From there, you will also have a view of the Big Buddha Phuket.
What you will learn about the temple
As expected, temples are very sacred to the Thai people. So as a visitor, be on your best behavior when visiting this infamous temple. The best thing is to watch and copy how the locals behave. Frequenters to Wat Chalong NEVER stand higher than any of the Buddha statues.
The central temple is where most locals show their honor by offering lotus flowers and a piece of gold paper to the monks’ statues inside.
Now, we understand that Phuket can get quite hot, but no matter how hot it gets, it’s wrong to wear revealing clothes inside the temple – or any temple for that matter. It’s a place of worship so it needs to be respected.
So does this mean there is a dress code?
You could say so in passing. For instance, your shoulders, chest, tummy and legs need to be covered. So theoretically, one needs wear long pants. And sleeveless shirts or tops are considered inappropriate. That said, things are not as strict as they used to be before. So you won’t be asked to remove your shoes before entering this sacred place of worship. However, be prepared to be welcomed by a sea of shoes aimlessly abandoned in front of the temple.
Getting to the temple
Wat Chalong temple is about 8.6 km southwest of Phuket Old Town, on the eastern side of Kata beach. If you are coming from Chao Fah Nok Road (Chao Fa West Road) from Central Phuket Floresta Shopping Mall the temple is located on the left side of the road.
If you are traveling from Patong, the temple is about 18 km southeast of Phuket beach.
The temple is open from 7 am until 5 pm. The ideal days to visit is during weekdays. The grounds get pretty busy and crowded on weekends and Thai public holidays.
It also gets very crowded around the Chinese New Year (end of January) during which the Wat Chalong Festival is held over a period of 8 days.
There is no admission fee. However, any donations, which go to the maintenance of the temple are highly appreciated.
More about the history and legends of the temple
There are many stories and legends about this infamous Buddhist temple. And the main take develops around the Chinese Coolie Rebellion of 1876.
The Chinese Coolie Rebellion
The tin mining industry has been one of the pillars of Phuket’s wealth during the earlier centuries. Most of the people working in the mines were Chinese immigrants.
The Chinese Coolie Rebellion also known as the Angyee Rebellion broke out across Phuket in the 19th Century (1876 to be precise). During the rebellion, as significant number of people got killed.
Locals visited the temple for advice and help. The Abbott of Wat Chalong at the time, Luang Phor Cham helped people in the fight against the Angyee. But seeing as he was the monk, he himself couldn’t participate in the fight.
After the uprising was over, King Rama V invited Luang Phor Cham to Bangkok, where he was adorned the title of Phra Kru Wisit Wongsacharn. Luang Phor Cham’s statue can be found in the mondop building.
Luang Phor Cham’s walking stick
Luang Phor Cham’s walking stick is believed to have healing powers. Apparently lots of people got cured of stomach pains after being touched with the stick. The stick is still being kept in the ubosot and is not for viewing by the public.
For years, the temple has been associated with healing. Some two abbots from before were known for their understanding of herbal medicine and healing of locals.
Well that’s all we have for you about Wat Chalong Phuket. Hope you enjoy all the history that this temple has to offer!