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Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand - Visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. The temple is often referred to as "Doi Suthep" although this is actually the name of the mountain where it's located. It is a sacred site to many Thai people. The temple is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the city of Chiang Mai. From the temple, impressive views of Chiang Mai can be seen.
The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time, the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.
White elephant legend
According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream. In this vision he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and found a bone, Many claim it was Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers: it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled the Sukhothai.
The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.
King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and bade the monk to bring it to him. In 1368, with Dharmmaraja's permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. Once there, the relic broke into two pieces. The smaller piece was enshrined at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the king on the back of a white elephant which was released into the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at that time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), stopped, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead. This was interpreted as an omen. King Nu Naone immediately ordered the construction of a temple at the site.
Wat Doi Suthep
The wat can be reached by road from Chiang Mai. From the car park at the temple's base visitors can climb 309 steps to reach the pagodas or take a tram.
Once inside the temple grounds visitors must must be appropriately dressed and must remove footwear. The original copper plated chedi is the most holy area of the temple grounds. Within the site are pagodas, statues, bells, a museum, and shrines. Aspects of the wat draw from both Buddhism and Hinduism. There is a model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesh. Views of Chiang Mai can be seen on the far side of the temple.