. We purposely went to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to visit an elephant sanctuary (more on that in a separate photo-blog here). But while in the city, one cannot ignore the 300+ wats or temples that dot this ancient city of Northern Thailand. There is a move to declare Chiang Mai as a Creative City – a city where cultural and creative activities are an integral part of the city’s economic and social functioning.
. Walking distance from the hotel where we stayed in was Wat Meng (Wat Buppharam), a big temple built in 1497. It would have been just like any of the hundreds of temples in Chiang Mai, but what made it particularly interesting is the figurine of the likeness of Donald Duck standing proudly in the front lawn of the main temple. It was really a little odd to find it there with all the other artifacts associated with Buddhism.
. Our next stop, was Wat Phan On, a relatively “new” temple built in 1501. There was a school attached to this temple – and we observed how young monks were teaching children while seated on the floor! They were not writing or anything, so they must be doing some form of relaxation exercise. I may be wrong though ….
. This was my favorite wat, Wat Phantao, an all-wood temple with such a character. Even the inside was impressive, more so when you consider that this temple houses the relic of Lord Buddha. No wonder many people were praying inside the temple.
. In its heyday, Wat Chedi Luang must have been the most impressive temple in Chiang Mai. Built about 600 years ago, the huge pagoda which gave the temple its name (the name of the temple translates to “royal pagoda“) must have soared high above the surrounding city. We say “must have” because the chedi was mostly destroyed within a few hundred years of its construction. Some say it was an earthquake in the 17th century that almost destroyed it.
. Before temple-fatigue could set in, nature took its’ course and an unexpected heavy afternoon downpour in Chiang Mai led us to the last temple we visited that day …. Wat Pra Singh. This temple houses an important Buddha statue: the Phra Buddha Sihing which gives the temple its name. Built in 1345, it underwent several renovations. The last major renovation was in 2002.
Five different temples in one day … and there are 300+ temples in Chiang Mai!
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