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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, often referred to as Wat Doi Suthep, is the landmark of Chiang Mai. Characteristic is the gilded Chedi.
We take a taxi to get us to the temple. Wat Doi Suthep is about 7 km west of the center of Chiang Mai. It lies 1053 m above sea-level and 400 m high on the slope of Doi Suthep Mountain. The road winds steeply up the mountain in innumerable curves. Many cyclists use it as training grounds and torment themselves up the gradients. But afterward, they enjoy the downhill. The road, built in 1935, ends in a parking lot lined with sales booths.
According to legend, the monk Maha Sumana Thera has brought a relic of the Buddha from Sukhothai, in 1371. When the relic broke into two pieces, one was fastened to a white elephant and the elephant was set to free. The elephant ran three days towards the mountain Doi-Suthep until he reached the place where the hermit Wasuthep lived. There he collapsed dead. It was clear that this was the place where a new temple was to be built, which then happened.
In 1525, King Muang Kaeo increased the Chedi to 16 m and it received its present form.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
From the parking lot, a steep staircase with 306 steps leads to the temple. The bodies of two Nagas, stone serpents, form the balustrade.
We prefer to use the cable car. Arrived at the top, we are in a courtyard.
The sculpture of a white elephant is reminiscent of the founding legend.
To the right of the tower with the large bell is a Sal tree (Shorea robusta), in Thai Sala tree. The woody round brown fruits with a diameter of up to 24 cm give the tree the common name cannonball tree.
The Sal tree is of particular importance in many cultures. In Buddhism, the short flowering period of the tree is a symbol of impermanence. According to legend, Queen Maya gave birth to her son Gautama Buddha under a Sala tree in Lumbini. Allegedly Buddha died under a Sala tree.
Then we enter the inner sanctum. A gallery built by Chao Kawila in 1806, is surrounds the inner courtyard.
But our eyes are immediately attracted by a golden Chedi that glows majestically in the sunlight. Besides the Chedi and under the gallery you see Buddha statues everywhere. Several of them are made of crystal glass.
At the front of the gallery facing east are two small Viharns, with golden Buddhas inside. Here Monks give their blessing to believers.
Over a short flight of stairs, we reach a large viewing platform. Usually, it offers a magnificent panoramic view of Chiang Mai. During our stay it is very hazy, so unfortunately the far-sightedness is not very good.
On the back wall of the viewing platform, we see a series of hanging bells. The believers pass by and let them ring in turn.
Impressed by the much gold we return to the center of Chiang Mai.
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