History

Wat Phra That Sri Chom Thong

The present sanctuary was built at the beginning of the19thcentury, but there has certainly been a temple here for many hundred years to house the famous Buddhist relic. This is said to come from the right side of the Lord Buddha's skull. This relic is much revered locally; it is kept in a golden mondop and brought out for display on the main Buddhist festivals. Many other old Buddha statues are kept at the temple under tight security.

Passing on through the little market town of Chom Tong, you arrive at an important group of cotton weaving villages situated on the banks of the usually dried up Ping River. Hand operated looms are used and it is possible to watch the girls at work. At one small factory, there is a museum of textiles and weaving and also a good restaurant.


Phrathat Doi Suthep

This temple is one of the most famous Buddhist shrines in the region. It is also famous for the visitors who come to Chiang Mai. Legend has it that an especially holy relic was brought to Chiang Mai in 1371. To decide where it should be enshrined, it was placed on the back of an elephant, which promptly set out to climb the mountain. It finally came to rest and there the relic was buried. The first chedi was built over it, and the temple has been continually expanded and embellished ever since.

DoiSuthep is a short 17 km.drive from the city. You then have to climb some 200 steps up the naga stairway, or take a small tram to the temple. The view across Chiang Mai City and the Ping River valley is breathtaking and makes the exhausting climb worthwhile.

And then there is the temple itself. Cloisters painted with bright murals depicting the previous lives of the Buddha and filled with Buddha statues, enclose a marble floored area in the middle of which rises up a glorious golden chedi. The chedi is surrounded with a railing and at the four points of the compass are places where people can offer flowers, light joss sticks, and apply small squares of gold leaf as they pray and make their wishes.

DoiSuthep can be seen from everywhere in Chiang Mai. it is a potent and powerful presence to which people often lift up their eyes for consolation in trouble or gratitude in happiness. You can take Songthaewtaxis up the mountain or join a tour.


Wat Umong

It was founded in the time of KingMengrai.There is old drawing on the wall inside the temple. The attraction of Wat Umong is not just the great old buildings, but its 20 rai of tree-filled park and lake. Most of the trees have signs written in Thai and English, of Buddhist exhortations - today many visit the famed 'preaching trees'. There is also a library with literature on Buddhism as well as a museum - incredibly the library is said to contain a Cornish - English dictionary.