The temple is of the Thai Theravada Buddhist tradition and closely affiliated with the Kelantanese Thai monastic chapter (khana song rat Kelantan) in Malaysia.
It began with Jao Khun Wijaranyanmuni (Jao Khun Khron, 1876-1962), the late chief abbot of Wat Uttamaram (also known as Wat Bang Saet) in the village of Bang Saet, Pasir Mas, Kelantan. He was the former chief monk of Kelantan and the first known monk in Kelantan to have received the monastic title of Jao Khun (although he passed away 15 days before he was to receive the ceremonial fan of office from King Phumiphol).
In 1962 (BE 2505), Jao Khun Khron was invited to visit Singapore by his devotees here. It was on this trip that he informed his followers of his intention to have a piece of land in Singapore to build a temple. Mr Tan Khe Wat, a Singaporean Chinese man was present when the monk spoke of his intent and willingly offered him a piece of land 2.5 ha in size to Jao Khun Khron.
A short time after having been given the land, Jao Khun Khron passed away.
The land was originally swampy and included a deep pond. Local Chinese villagers used the area to grow grassy vegetables to be used as fodder for pigs, ducks and chickens.
Construction of the temple proper began in 1963 (BE 2506) under the directorship of the late Phra Khru Silakhunaphorn (Than Mitr, 1930-2001) who at the time held the monastic title of Phra Palad. He had been given full rights to the land by Jao Khun Wijarayanmuni Jantr (1909-1992), Jao Khun Khron’s successor and Kelantan’s second Jao Khun. Jao Khun Jantr instructed Phra Palad Mitr to be the chief abbot (jao awat) of the Singapore temple and to oversee its completion.
The temple was given the name Wat Uttamayanmuni. This was derived from a combination of Wat Uttamaram and Phra Wijarayanmuni (the monastic name of Kelantan first Jao Khun).
The first building to be constructed in 1963 was a wooden residence for monks (kuti) with a row of room for three monks and three nuns. There were also 2 lay helpers who lived at the temple. Chinese and Thai devotees in Singapore assisted the temple in securing the necessary finances so as to reclaim the swamp and low lying pond, converting it into high ground.
Phra Maha Suwansuranat assisted Phra Palad Mitr to obtain plans for the construction of the main shrine hall (ubosot) from the Fine Arts Department in Bangkok. The actual construction of the ubosot did not begin until a few years later pending approval from the Singapore government. Once approved, a ceremony of burying foundation stones (phithi wang silaruek) was held. The guest of honour at the event was Jao Khun Jantr. The first stones were planted at the auspicious time of 10.30am on Tuesday, September 11, 1973 (BE 2516).
In January 1980 (BE 2520), Thailand’s then Prime Minister, Thanom Kitikachorn and his family presented a donation of tiles to be used on the roof of the building.
In October of the same year, Mr Phenke Jongsanguan donated the main Buddha image in the ubosot.
Writeup by courtesy of Upasaka Irving Johnson
Photos by courtesy of UBT Photo library