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Wat Chedi Luang
Witness the Grandeur of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
There is no any record about how Doi Suthep was found and there are some versions about the origin of the temple. One of the most believed is the one that said the Doi Suthep was first found in 1383 when the first stupa was made. This stupa was built by King Keu Naone to enshrine a piece of bone that is said to be the shoulder of Buddha, found by Sumanathera, a monk from Sukhothai Kingdom. Started with one single stupa, the temple was expanded as time goes with many more holy shrines built in the area. While the road that leads to the temple was built in 1935.
Before brought to King Keu Naone who ruled Lan Na, Sumanathera brought the bone to the king of Sukhothai because the bone was believed to have magical powers. But, when brought to King Dhammaraja, the bone shows no abnormal characteristics and the king told Sumanathera to keep it. When bought to King Keu Naone, the bone broke into two pieces. One of them was enshrined in a temple in Suandok, while the other was placed on the back of a white elephant by the king. The white elephant then climbed up Doi Suthep, at that time called Doi Aoy Chang, meaning Sugar Elephant Mountain. After that, the elephant trumpeted three times, and then dropped dead. What happened was interpreted as an omen and King Keu Naone immediately ordered the construction of the first stupa at the location where the elephant died.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep nowadays is considered as one of the most holy Buddhist site that is also a major pilgrimage destination during Buddhist holidays of Makha Bucha and Visakha Bucha that take place on 13 February and 11 May. Upon arrival on the temple, you will be welcomed with 306 steps built in 1557 with giant snakes or nagas that run along the steps. These King of Nagas believed to protect Buddha from a terrible storm. Once you reach the top, you will see a white elephant statue that is a symbol of respect from the elephant with the bone of Buddha. The main attraction in the area is the 24 meters high stupa that is covered with gold from top to bottom known as the Golden Pagoda.
The Golden Pagoda is the house of the bone of Buddha that was brought by the white elephant in the legend. On the wall, you will find rows of Buddha statues with colored murals that depicted the life of Buddha. You will also see some other statue in the temple, including a Buddha statue made from emerald and a statue of Ganesh. Near the pagoda is a terrace with a view point overlooking Chiang Mai, while the Monks residence and the International Buddhism Center are located behind the Wooden Wiharn.
In the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, there is the International Buddhism Center that offers courses for foreign visitors about meditation. There are some choices of the course that come with different duration of time, from 4 to 21 days. The courses are called Vipassana Insight Mediation and are run off by donation only. The course can be joined for free and if you are willing to take it, you will learn about Dhammatalk, Meditation, Chanting, and Teachings for both group and individual. However, if you only have a short time, you can join the daily courses that are also available. The park also offers a clean and affordable accommodations for people who want to spend days for the courses.
Located still in the same national park is the Wat La Pat. Because it is not as big as the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple brings a calmer ambience. This place is also a great alternative if the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is too crowded with tourist. On the entrance, there are two half lion, half human warriors. To find the main Temple building, you will be guided with a series of old gnome-like stone statues. This place is also the living place for the monks and offers some secrets attraction, including a small waterfall and rows of small Buddha statues. Though the temple is not as glamour as the Golden Pagoda, a visit to this small temple is definitely worth it.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets can be bought on site. The opening hours are from 7am to 5pm.
How To Get Around?
To get around, you will have to go by foot. However, if you think that taking 306 steps to the temple entrance will be too tiring or if you are going with someone with wheelchair, you can take the electric tram.
What Should I Wear?
Due to the fact that Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is considered as a sacred place, it is a must to dress properly. As for the shoes, it is better to wear comfortable shoes or sandals because you will walk a lot.
Best Time to Visit
If you want to avoid the crowd, then the best time to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is also better to go on a sunny day to get a better view from the top.
Will I Need a Guide?
You can explore the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep without a guide. However, you can also take a guided trip or join the course to get more information.
How To Get There?
There are several options available to get to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The easiest way is to go by car, but the most popular way is by taking a songthaew that leaves from Huay Kaew Road near the Zoo.