Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
high-definition creative commons photographs from this ancient temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, showing the architecture, statues, reliefs and decoration work, together with further information.
The original founding of this important pilgrimage temple is shrouded in legends and there are a number of versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first Chedi was built. Over time the temple has greatly expanded with many more shrines added. The staircase to the temple was built in the 16th century, and the road to the temple was built in 1935 by the famous monk Phra Ku Si Wichai.
According to legend, a monk named Sumana Thera from Sukhothai had a dream that a god told him to go to the ancient site of Si Satchanalai and look for a relic. Sumana ventured there and is said to have found a bone in a dilapadated Chedi, which many claimed was the Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers: it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move by itself and replicate itself. Sumana took the relic to King Dharmaraja who ruled Sukhothai.
The eager King made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumana Thera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumana he could keep it.
However, King Ku Na of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and asked the monk to bring it to him instead. In 1368 with the King's permission, Sumana took the relic to Chiang Mai. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original.
The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at Wat Suan Dok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed to the top of the mountain Doi Suthep, around 15km west of Chiang Mai.
At that time the mountain was known as Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), the elephant trumpeted three times, turned around three times, then knelt down and died at the site. This was interpreted as an auspicious sign and King Ku Na ordered the construction of a temple at the site, and built the original Chedi, said to be 10 metres high.
The temple commands a wonderful view out over the surrounding countryside and Chiang Mai city, but the day we were there it was overcast and not very suitable for photography. While we were there there was a music and dance session by children in tribal dress, evidently put on for the tourists.
Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, July 20th 2011
A Line of Bells in Phra That Doi Suthep
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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