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June, 2004

Thailand photo.
Wat Chedi Luang

— Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang was built on the site where King Mengrai was killed by lightning in 1317. The chedi, built of brick in the 15th century, was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1465. Or by an earthquake in the 16th century, or by cannon fire in the 18th century; the guidebooks differ on the details. Perhaps it was subject to all of these disasters. There have been some recent attempts at restoration. It is hard to know if the results are an improvement as we never saw the originals. Much of the detail of the chedi — the Buddha statues, nagas, and elephants — are modern replacements for lost or damaged materials.

The Wat is fairly large and is an active Buddhist center. We visited early on a rainy morning and had the place to ourselves and a few monks. A tour bus arrived just as we were leaving. Here are some photos:

monks  | naga  | Buddha  | elephants

Thailand photo.
The withan

— Wat Lok Molee

This wat is located on Mani Noppharat Road, near the Chang Phuak gate. It is not shown on any of our maps or guidebooks. We just happened to find it while walking to a market. The wat was founded sometime before 1367, as it is mentioned in documents of that year. Most of the current buildings were built in the 16th century. The temple was founded by 10 Burmese monks who came here at the invitation of the King. The temple houses the ashes of members of the royal Mengrai Dynasty.

The wat does not seem very impressive from the main street, but we explored the grounds and found it to be both interesting and beautiful. Here are some photos:

Thailand photo.
Buddha images

— Wat Chiang Mun

Built at the end of the 13th century, Wat Chiang Man (also spelled Chiang Mun) is the oldest temple in the city of Chiang Mai. The withan houses a number of important Buddha images. We found the architecture interesting, particularly the brick and plaster elephants which surround the base of the chedi. The interior of the withan is covered with religious murals.

Here are some photos of Wat Chiang Man :

elephants  | elephant  | monks  | mural

Thailand photo.
Wat Bupparam

— Wat Bupparam

Wat Bupparam was built in the 15th century, and has a long history of conquests, modification and enlargement, and re-conquest. It is gorgeous, with some of the best statues and ornamentation we have seen in Chiang Mai. This is a very impressive place. The 2-story withan contains 3 major Buddha images. The first is painted wood, the second is covered in gold leaf, and the third is made from a green gemstone, probably emerald. In each case, the background is fantastic. The ceiling is heavily decorated, as are the walls above the doors and windows. Here is a very sylized map of the wats of Chiang Mai. You can see the distinctive city moat in the center of the map, and the Ping River on the right.

This wat is particularly impressive. It is beautifuly decorated and well maintained. When we visited, they were repairing a roof of one of the buildings, and adding new sculputures. Here is a plaster sculpture under construction. The finished demons will look like this. This is certainly the most visually stunning temple we have seen in Chiang Mai. Here are some more photos of Wat Bupparam :

naga  | decoration  | chedi  | monk

Thailand photo.
Wat Phra Sing

— Index —


— Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh was constructed in 1345, though many of the buildings date from the 17th century. The withan is decorated with murals depicting everyday life at the time they were painted. It contains a renowned Buddha image that is reputed to have been made in Sri Lanka, although its style is not particularly Sri Lankan. This Buddha, and others identical to it, traveled extensively through northern Thailand and Laos as Kings fought and conspired to own it. Today it is impossible to document the origin and history of many of these images.

Some of the wats have established "monk chat" or "novice chat" programs which allow us to sit and talk to the monks or novices. We learn something about their lives and interests, and they practice their English. Wat Phra Singh has a "novice chat" area near the back of the temple grounds where we spent a few minutes talking with Somkid Kutpa and his friends during their lunch break. His English was pretty good; he tried to teach us a few Thai words but we are very slow learners. We had a great time, and will go back again when we return to Chiang Mai in July.

Here are some more photos of Wat Phra Singh:

walkway  | Buddha  | novice  | tree



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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
Website designed and created by Lois Richter, expanded by Jim.
Created 6/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.