Window to Chiang Mai Thailand
Mudplaying with Elephants
See location at Google Maps: Wat Chedi Luang
King Saen Muang Ma began building the Phra Chedi Luang to enshrine the relics of his father at the end of the 14th century, but King Tilokarat completed it. The chedi used to be 90 meters high before it was partly destroyed in an earthquake in 1545; it was to remain the tallest structure in Chiang Mai for over 500 years. The present restored chedi is about 60 meters high.
One of the best times to see this chedi is during the wian tian ceremony in the evening on one of the main Buddhist festival days.
The large viharn was built in 1928. Round columns with bell shaped bases and lotus finials support the high red ceiling inside. The standing Buddha image inside is known as the Phra Chao Attarot. Made of a combination of brass alloy and mortar, the image dates back to King Saen Muang Ma (r.1385-1401). Buddhist posters are placed along the walls between the windows, and cabinets with Buddha images and Bencharong ceramics line the walls.
The cross shaped hall to the south of the main viharn contains the city pillar. Statues in small shelters surrounding this building are homes of guardian spirits. Legends say that a hermit (whose image is in a shelter on the west side of the building) went to the God Indra to ask for protection for the city from enemies. On condition that appropriate offerings were made, Indra permitted two kumaphan (mythical human-beast creature) to carry the Inthakhin pillar from the Tavatimsa heaven to the city.
Chao Kawila moved the city pillar to its present site from Wat Sadoe Muang in 1800. He built statues of the kumaphan under shelters to the north and south of the main entrance to the temple. He also planted the three large yang (dipterocarpus alatus) trees. According to legend, the tree nearest the city pillar will protect Chiang Mai as long as it is not cut down.
Other buildings in the compound include the Lanna campus of the Mahamakut Buddhist University (This is the northern campus for monks of the Thammayut sect, a reformist sect founded by King Mongkut (Rama IV r.1851-1881, who was dissatisfied with the established Mahanikai sect in the late 1830's). To the west of the chedi is a viharn with a reclining Buddha and the Sangkhachai Buddha. From this area an exit leads out onto Chaban Road.