The King’s Birthday was the auspicious date selected to launch the theme, “Remember Lamphun’s Heritage” by the Lamphun Governor Direk Gawngleeb (ผู้ว่าฯ "ิเรก ก้อนกลีบ). It was a day of colorful pageantry requiring participants to visit eight of the provinces revered temples and must-see sight-seeing places.
At the ceremony a merit making activity, the new Lamphun Will Hotel generously donated warm jackets to 100 samlor drivers to keep them warm during the current cold spell.
Getting to Lamphun (pronounced “Lumpoon”) is easy driving south on a two lane road with beautiful trees. Local expat residents fondly call the road to Lamphun province, the “Big Tree” road. One cannot fail to notice how the towering “Yang-Na” trees marking the Chiang Mai province border, suddenly change into pretty yellow flowered “Khee Legk” trees, indicating that you have entered Lamphun province. Lamphun is the smallest and oldest province in the Northern Thailand.
The two types of trees long standing at the side of the road are:
The reason for planting these different trees according to legend tells of two princes of the neighboring provinces who agreed in ancient times to set the boundary between the regions. However, the scheming prince of Chiangmai ordered his soldiers to arrive at the location hours before the agreed meeting time and they planted more trees, ensuring that his principality would cover the most land.
Historically Lamphun a province located to the south of Chiangmai is much older than Chiang Mai. It was founded 1400 years by Queen Jammathewee. Lamphun stands on the site of Haripoonshai, an ancient Morn Kingdom and the first recognized civilization of Northern Thailand. Haripoonshai was rich in culture, art and religion and active in trade some 600 years prior to King Mengrai’s invasion in the 13th Century.
Fortunately, the legacy of this marvelous culture has been preserved at the Haripoonshai National Museum, situated on Inthayongyot Road. in the center of town. A vast collection of authentic artifacts dating from the Pre-Thai Morn dynasty along with those from the Korm, Thai-Sukothai and Lanna-Thai periods are well displayed here. The pre 13th Century figures are strongly influenced by the Pala art of India and the Dvaravati art of northeastern Thailand, whereas, post 13th Century terra-cotta, sandstone and bronze statures are indicative of the late Morn Dvaravati Period
The two main attractions of this delightful town are Wat Pra Thart Haripoonshai and the Haripoonshai National Museum. Built in 897 AD, the unique temple houses one of the largest and grandest Wiharn in the north. The wat entrance faces the Guang River and is fiercely guarded by two oriental lion statues. The temple grounds contain two impressive chedis, the tallest of which, Ahtit Dayalat, stands a majestic 51 meters high and its nine tier umbrella, crafted from pure gold, glisten gloriously in the midday sun. Take time to explore the teak wood library, which houses many ancient Pali scripts and be awestruck by the old Lanna style pagoda and the tremendous call-to-prayer gong.
Worth a visit is the country’s first covered bridge and the site of the Gaad Khua-Moong Tha-Singh Folk Market. Gaad (often written kad) means open-air market, Khua means bridge, Moong means cover or roof, Tha means pier and Singh refers to the lion figures at the temple gates. So you see, the market is aptly named. A variety of products marketed under the government plan OTOP (One Tambon One Product) are available here, ranging from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbal juices to handwoven textiles, candles and wood carvings. The bridge, which is built in the style of ancient Lanna architecture is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 - 18.00 hours and contains 54 stalls. It is located near the grounds of Wat Pra Thart Haripoonshai. If you take time to examine the intricate weaves of the fabrics, you will be able to discern the different patterns, including “Khun Nai Tuen Sai” (literally, Madam wakes up late and it is the common name of a flower), “Lai Med Sohn” (pine cone) and, the signature weave of Lamphun “Lai Dawg Pigoon” (ylang ylang).
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