A convenient starting point for this outing should be at the intersection of the Phucome Hotel, just 100 meters west of the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel on Huay Kaew Road. Drive north to the Irrigation Canal Road (Route 121) then, turn right when you see the sign of the Chang Puak Police station. Not too far, turn left at the sign leading to the Hilltribe Museum located in the area of Suan Lanna Rama IX Park (Rajamangala Park). This museum is rich in culture, tradition, and daily activities of the six major hilltribes living in the north. Leaving the hilltribe museum, drive back to Route 121 along the Irrigation canal, visitors may stop to view the sizable landscape of the 700 Years Anniversary Stadium of Chiang Mai. Two kilometers north of the stadium is the Vieng Ping Home for Children. It's a good idea to phone ahead to get a visitors pass.
Leaving the orphanage, drive a little further to a bridge on the left leading towards a man-made lake called Huay Teung Thao. Later, you may want to visit this scenic picnic spot. The coming curve is the ending of the parallel road and canal, but Route 121 will continue after a right turn. The first intersection, turn left and drive along Route 107 until the KM 13 marker on the curb on the left side toward the Model Center of Learning and keep driving for another 3 kilometers. The center aims to both demonstrate and teach young Thais who are interested in earning an income from handicrafts or the land. The Center also gives an insight for visitors from other countries (or other regions in Thailand) to see how a beautiful length of silk or cotton or an intricate suit is produced.
Over 3,000 Royal Projects and initiatives have spearheaded irrigation developments, reforestation, crop substitution and sustainable, self-help, economic programs in rural areas. His Majesty has lead his people to a better and more prosperous life-style and continues to use his influence to advance progress. Thai people, from the humblest to the highest in political life, have learned from His Majesty's knowledge and example and willingness to give of himself.
Leaving the center, drive further north on the irrigation road and reach the bridge on left hand. Cross the bridge, turn left to a particularly peaceful temple- - Wat Pa Dara Pirom with its forest landscape. After a photo taking session, drive back and cross the same bridge to the entrance of the Northern Headquarters of Border Patrol Police. Within this small area, is Dara Pirom Palace, a western-designed century old mansion, the former residence of Princess Dara Rasamee, the consort of King Chulalongkorn. Visitors enjoy seeing her royal life about a hundred years ago at this Dara Pirom Palace Museum. Chulalongkorn University cooperated with members of the royal Lanna family to collect various personal items that Jao Dara Rasamee used in this residence. Working together, their efforts recovered some 270 pieces of furniture, decorative items, and personal effects which had previously adorned the original palace. These items are now on display showing the typical palace decor at the time of her life.
Keep driving on Route 107 until you see Km. 18 before the coming curve, turn left toward Wat Chedi Sathaan, if not, turn left later at Rim Nua market 50 meters away. Two kilometers away to the local road, Rte. 3010, and keep going toward north until KM 16 at Wat San Pateung and turn left. Now the village road is even narrower than Route 3010. Two kilometers later, it is Wat Nohng Guy with its interesting mural paintings of rural life. The next stop will be 17 kilometers away, up and down through isolated area in the forest. Anyone, who loves nature, will not be disappointed. Your destination is now the Temple of Four Buddhas' Footprints (Pra Buddhabaat Zee Roy).
The Legend of The Four Buddhas' Footprints
Past generations believed, the Lord Buddha Gotama along with his followers traveled to spread the Dhamma philosophy through the region of present-day northern Thailand. Once he arrived at the mountain top of "Verabhanpote", he discovered through his transcendent vision or perception that the three previous Buddhas before his time, namely, Buddha Gooksantha, Buddha Gonakomna and Buddha Gassapa visited here. It was obvious that the footprints of three Buddhas from different times had accumulated altogether on the boulder. Buddha Gotama decided to add his own footprint which is visible at the present time, thus, known as "Four Buddhas' Footprints". A prediction was made by Buddha Gotama that the next Buddha, named Buddha Pra Sri Ariya Mettrai, in the future will come here, erase the previous footprints and put the future Buddha's footprint in place. At the time, Buddha Gotama was about to leave the mountain top, he wished that a group of divinity would carry his relics to the spot of the four footprints. The discovery of this place was yet to be 2,000 years after he reached Nirvana.
Two thousand years later, the group of divinity transformed physically into eagles that flew down to the village nearby the mountain top of Verabhanpote. The eagles tried to frighten not only the chickens that belonged to villagers but an animal hunter. The eagles flew back to the mountain top meanwhile the angry hunter became berserk and followed the eagles to the top of mountain. Right there, he discovered the four footprints. He came down to the village announcing of his phenomenon. All the villagers paid respect and prayed at the four footprints since then. The villagers named the respected site as "Buddha Footprint of Rung Roong" (Rung means nest, and Roong means eagles),
The story spread around and some how reached King Mengrai of Chiang Mai who made the trip along with his queen and aides. Thus, a tradition began that every king who ruled Chiang Mai must visit and pay respect to the Four Buddhas' Footprints. Until 1928, Princess Dara Rasmee, the consort of King Chulalongkorn, made the visit and built a wiharn (Chapel) over the footprint. In the following years, Pra Kruba Sriwichai, the revered Buddhist pilgrim of northern Thailand visited and, later, renovated the place so that it would be in appropriate respectful condition.
Again in 1993, the renovation was made during the life of Pra Kruba Pornchai who led a group of 11 monks and novices. The temple has been continuously developed and new facilities built. The latest phase was finished in time for the 50th Golden Jubilee Celebration of the King in June 1996.
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