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Thailand

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Chiang Mai (Part 2)
(Part 1)

The Thais call it "The Rose of the North". For most tourists it is the second city in popularity to visit. Many Thais (and also many expats) want to retire here. A fact is that Chiang Mai is a beautiful city, and much more quiet than Bangkok, although it is becoming more crowded now, in the 21st Century.

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A few Temples in Chiang Mai

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Like every Thai town or village, Chiang Mai has many Wats (Buddhist Temples). In Chiang Mai they are particularly interesting, because many are very old and dating from the time that Chiang Mai was an independent Kingdom, and not yet a part of the present Kingdom of Thailand or - better said - the former Kingdom of Siam.

Wat Bupparam

Buddha Image in Wat BupparamSmall Temple next to Wat Bupparam

Wat Bupparam is the Temple in Chiang Mai I admire most of all, because of its Buddha Image. I wonder why this Wat hardly gets any attention in the tourist guidebooks. It contains a fantastic wooden Buddha Image (see the left hand side picture above and do click it!). Originally this Buddha Image was colored black. I found that original color of an extreme beauty. However, between 1994 (when I saw the black Buddha for the first time) and 1998 (when I  returned to Chiang Mai for the first time after that), somebody decided that it should be painted  white, and thus  happened. 

So, as you see it on the picture above is how it looks today. It still is beautiful, but the painting was totally unnecessary, in my humble opinion.  The right hand side picture shows a small Temple (or maybe one should call it a shrine) next to the main building of Wat Bupparam.

Wall in Wat BupparamSmall Buddha in Wat Bupparam

Not only the Buddha Image in Wat Bupparam is of great beauty, also the wall of the main building, with its many decoration is a great sight, as you can see on the left hand side picture here. The right hand side picture shows a smaller Buddha Image, a copy of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. It is located in the same room as the wooden Buddha. I believe - despite the small attention paid to it by the major guidebooks - that every visitor to Chiang Mai should visit Wat Bupparam.



Wat Chedi Luang

Buddha Image in Wat Chedi LuangEntrance of Wat Chedi Luang

Another important Temple in Chiang Mai is Wat Chedi Luang. It consists of a modern Temple, as pictured above, and of an ancient Chedi. The ancient Chedi  was under restoration when I visited the place and made these pictures. The restoration is being paid by UNESCO and the Japanese government, by the way. The old Chedi dates from 1441 and once (shortly after its construction) housed the original Emerald Buddha, that now is in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. The modern Temple on the  grounds contains a fine Buddha Image. The entrance of the modern Temple, with two dragons, is shown on the right hand side picture above.

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Wat Phra Sing

Buddha Image in Wat Phra SingEntrance of Wat Phra Sing

Wat Phra Sing is another Wat dating from the early 15th century, the time when Chiang Mai was an independent Kingdom. The building itself has a strong presence and you can hardly miss it. It is located near the Suan Dok city gate and you should visit it.

The most precious Buddha Image of Wat Phra Sing is - sadly - not on these pictures. It is in a smaller Wiharn of Wat Phra Sing and it is identical to one in Nakhon Si Thammarat and to one in Bangkok. It is said to come from Sri Lanka. The one in Bangkok is in the National Museum, near Sanam Luang. It seems not to be known to anybody - with certainty that is - which one is the original image!  On this external page you can see it.

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Fine woodcarving

There are many, many other fine Temples in Chiang Mai. Some of them have fine woodcarving at the entrance and elsewhere. After all, woodcarving is one of the specialties of Chiang Mai. This is an example of such woodcarving, above the entrance of a small no-name Wat on Ta Pae Road. A fine carving of the Buddha, teaching his followers.

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