Temples in Chiangrai
The City of Chiangrai, like many of Thailand's smaller cities, takes great pride in the preservation of its historic temples (Wats), and the people of Chiangrai welcome visitors to view these temples at their leisure. The city was founded by King Mengrai prior to his founding of Chiangmai. It is one of Thailand's northernmost cities and the main city within a province that borders both Laos and Burma. Much of what you will see at Chiangrai's temples stems from its old heritage. It's well worth a tour. Among the many temples within Chiangrai you may wish to visit, the following are suggested as examples.
Wat Prasingh is an ancient temple built between 1345 and 1400, during the period of King Maha Proma of Chiangrai, brother of the King of Chiangmai at the same time in history. Among the attractions at this temple are a reproduction of the Pra Buddha Sinhingh, a Buddhist image from the Sukhothai period -- the original is in Chiangmai: a Sri Lanka-style building in wood and 'din Khou'' a bell tower with a brass bell in the northern Thai styles; a Bhoti Tree from India; and a stone Buddha footprint with ancient Khmer script believed to have been built during the reign of King Mengrai. Wat Pra Singh is located close to the boat pier along the Mae Kok River, which borders Chiangrai on one side.
Wat Prakeaw is about two blocks away from Wat Pra Singh and is situated on Ruangnakorn Road. Wat Prakaew is a charming wooden structure with delicately carved and painted panels. Inside is a seated Buddha of the Chiang Sean period and behind is a restored jedee in which the famed Emerald Buddha was found in 1434. The Emerald Buddha has a long history and is said to have resided first in Sri Lanka, followed by Cambodia at Angkor Wat. Ayutthaya when that city was Thailand's capital. Chiangrai from 1391 to 1436, Chiangmai, Laos until 1678, and Bangkok since 1678.
Wat Doi Thong
Not far from Wat Prakeaw, slightly to the northwest but still within Chiangrai city sets Wat Doi Thong. This temple overlooks the Mae Kok River from its perch on a hill at the site along the river known as the Navel Pillar and the 'Mer', and image which represents the center of the Buddhist Universe. After a walk along the streets of Chiangmai, visiting Wat Prasingh and Wat Prakeaw, Wat Doi Thong is a lovely place to sit down and enjoy a gentle river breeze.
Wat Prathat Doi Prabatt
At the opposite side of the city, very close to the Chiangrai Airport is Wat Prathat Doi Prabatt -- another temple providing a wonder view. In order to reach this temple, it is necessary to cross the airport runway in a western direction.
On the opposite side of the airport runway is Wat Pagor, another charming Chiangrai temple with Shan architecture design . It is located at the entrance to the airport and therefore there should be no reason to cross the runway, unless of course you are deplaning and feel like a long walk through the fields. Both Wat Pagor and Wat Prathat Doi Prabatt are well worth seeing, and both are done in the ancient Chiangrai, northern Thai style.
The word jedee plays an important role in the naming of this temple. Wat Jedyord is an elegant building with a seven-pointed jedee behind it. This temple is located on Jedyord Road toward the center of Chiangrai city.
Chiangrai is rich in the aesthetics of ancient Buddhist temples, reflecting historical influences from both Sri Lanka and India, as well as the period in Thai history before the then separated kingdoms of Chiangrai and Chiangmai became part of the Kingdom of Siam, or Thailand, as we always seem to think of it. The city itself is worth a visit, but the temples will make your visit complete.
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