We are in Chiang Mai and thoroughly enjoying the blue skies and low smog. The days are still a bit warm (read: hot!) and we notice it, as we are exploring the city, with a serious collection of Wats. James is not always as enthralled with Wats but these have been so incredible that he’s been able to keep pace with me and see all the amazing sights. A favorite of ours has been Wat Chedi Luang.
Well known in the city, it has an impressive temple, covered in gold embellishments. While beautiful, there is an even larger, more magnificent pagoda on the grounds, built in 1391(!).
That the Wat sits across from a 7-11 also made it a refreshing break from our long walk. We purchased slurpees, after being schooled by a young Thai boy on how to fill the cup to a max level (lids are only provided at check-out here). With our large slurpees, we moved across to the temple and hung out on a bench.
The area we rested in had a smaller temple under construction. We sipped through our brain freezes, taking in the grounds and the amazing tree that reached high into the air. It was probably the tallest I’ve seen in Thailand, rivaling the gorgeous silk-cotton trees in Siem Reap. It was so amazing, in fact, that I didn’t notice the small shrine to its left.
Having learned of this shrine that houses the Guardian of the City, I knew I needed a photo to complete this post. We happened back there today but the area was closed for construction. In my amazing grasp of proportions, I thought I could stick my hand over the wall (which is at minimum 10 feet tall) and capture a picture. [Mom – stop reading.] Luckily, James, always supporting my dreams, boosted me up on his shoulders. I snapped pictures while giggling nervously, certain my head would soon be cracked. But all went well and I have slightly askewed pictures to prove it. I only wish I’d also gotten pictures of the other tourists looking at us so oddly. All in the name of the blog! [Mom – come back.]
But yesterday, will no balancing acts, we departed from that quiet area and entered the large temple. Our eyes were immediate filled with gold as the Buddha closest to the entrance was covered in gold leaf and each large column was covered in gold embellishment. In the distance, a tall standing Buddha could be seen towering above the flags, hanging from strings attached to the pillars.
I moved slowly through the temple, taking note of the flags with the Eastern Horoscope animals and sat close to the large Buddha, Phra Chao Attarot. I gave thanks for this amazing journey and looked at each of the Buddhas that sat on the altar. They ranged in size from small to medium and numbered in the 100s.
With our eyes filled with gold, we circled behind the temple to behold the immense bricked pagoda. The pagoda was a shock to the senses, so large and unique in Thailand. Had we teleported to Cambodia?
A sign at the Wat boosts that it is the largest pagoda in Thailand. It once reached a height of 80 meters (about 262 feet), with a base of 56 meters (183ft), but received damage centuries ago. Stories conflict on if the damage was caused by an earthquake or cannon fire. In 1992, a series of restoration was completed, although the top was not provided further definition. Nagas and elephant structures do decorate the walls of the pagoda once again though. While these replacement pieces are obvious to spot, I did not feel like they took away from the beauty of the structure, nor the amazing way it lit up in the setting sun.
With the beautiful light, we took our time photographing the rest of the grounds, including temples dedicated to esteemed monks, a large Reclining Buddha and an image of monk Tan Pra Maha Kajjana…not to mention the friendly temple dogs. An opportunity missed was speaking with the monks but we had a scavenger hunt for a Meet-up in our future (we lost).
The Wat is definitely a must see in Chiang Mai. Even if you are susceptible to being wat-ed out like James, the immense pagoda will capture your attention and the amusing Engrish signs around the grounds will keep you entertained. Just don’t get distracted by the amazing trees!
More images from Wat Chedi Luang (web users, select image to view all images in a set, scroll with arrow keys) –