Temples in Chiangmai
To date, there have been some 300 temples constructed in Chiangmai an its outskirts. Visitors should take the time to visit the most revered temples in the city, built during the noble Lanna Thai dynasty.
Wat Goo Come, or Wat Jedee Liam was built by King Mengrai at the side of Wiang Goom Gaam, located just outside the city of Chiangmai on the road to Lumpoon. To get there, turn right at the starting point for the number two yellow bus, 200 meters after the Mae Ping Police Station on Lumpoon Road.
King Mengrai conquered Lumpoon in 1281, and two years later he began to look for a site to establish his new capital Chiangmai. During his surveying years, 1286-1295, he resided temporarily in Goom Gaam. Upon the death of his beloved wife, the queen, he built this pyramidal pagoda in her memory. He donated the monument to the wat after its completion in 1288.
Wat Jedee Luang on Prapokklao Road is the side of a formerly massive pagoda that was unfortunately destroyed in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 by the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the jedee to a height of 86 meters. After the earthquake, the jedee lay in ruin until 1991, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million Baht. The reconstructed jedee was finished in 1992, and it is every as impressive as it was when it was first built.
Wat Chiang Mun is the oldest temple in Chiangmai. It is located within the walled city on Rajpakinai Road. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiangmai was constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Mun is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee. It is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousand of years ago.
Wat Oo-Mong is an ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiangmai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk. The monk was not able to practice Lord Buddha's teaching in the city, so the king built a temple in an isolated area for the monk to stay quietly and meditate.
Wat Jao Mengrai was built in the city of Chiangmai shortly after Wat Chiang Mun was completed. When the big Buddha image was being carried through the city to the new temple site, the carriage broke and the image fell to the ground. Out of superstition, King Mengrai decided to build another temple on the spot.
Wat Suan Dorg on Suthep Road was built in 1383. It was constructed in the gardens of Lanna Royal Residence. The rows of smaller White jedees contain the ashes of Chiangmai Royal family.
Wat Pra Singh is located in the center of the city at the intersection of Singharaj and Rajdamnern Road. The large jedee was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mullberry paper sheets used by monk and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from the rain, floods and pests.
The walls of the chapel are coverer with mural illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen.
Wat Jed Yord is situated on the superhighway off Huay Kaew Road, near the Chiangmai National Museum. Built in 1455 by King Tilokaraja, its name means "Seven Spires" - a description of a jedee's construction. It was copied from the Mahabodi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, where the Buddha achieved enlightenment. The larger jedee contains the ashes of King Tilokaraja.
Wat Goo Tao is located behind the Municipal Stadium (Sanam Gita). It contains a delightful, almost whimsically constructed jedee shaped like five melons. All five are decorated with intricate pieces of colored porcelain.
Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep is set amongst the peaks of Doi Suthep. It has a lovely setting with a panoramic view of Chiangmai and the Mae Ping River valley. Although Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiangmai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and kneeled down and thus interpreted as a sign indicating and auspicious site.
Wat Pan Tao is one of the few remaining temples with wooden buildings that are still in good condition.
Wat Prasart is located across the street from Wat Phra Singh to the North. It is a good example of typical Lanna temple architecture.
Wat Saen Fang is of Burmese style situated in an amazingly serene spot just off busy Thapae Road.
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