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Thailand

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Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep is a mountain, about 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai, with on it Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, a Holy Buddhist Temple. Every Temple with a name starting with Wat Prathat contains Buddha relics and therefore is Holy to Buddhists. 

The place can easily be reached from Chiang Mai. I would say that it is hard not to find a bus or car that wants to bring you there. As you can see on this page, Doi Suthep certainly is worth a visit.

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Business on the stairs to Doi SuthepThe stairs to Doi Suthep

When you reach this Holy Buddhist place, the first thing you will notice is business (left hand side picture), as usual everywhere in Thailand. 
To reach the Temple of Doi Suthep, climb the stairs (see the right hand side picture) for the best experience.

There is a kind of rail-elevator, that has been closed down after an accident. One of the visitors of this page showed me on a photo, however, that the elevator was up and running again in 2011. Hopefully it will stay tyat way.

There are about 300 steps to climb. The reward is more than worth the effort. You will see a beautiful Buddhist Temple and you will experience a beautiful view. While climbing the stairs, you should pay attention to the giant dragons on the sides of the stairs (they appear already downstairs; see the right hand side picture).

How was the spot for this Temple chosen? When the Temple was being planned, about 600 years ago, the Buddha relics, to put inside the Chedi of the Temple, were put on the back of an elephant. At the spot where this elephant would stop, the Temple was going to be built. The elephant stopped at the spot where the Temple has been built, which is not the top of the mountain, but roughly just halfway the mountain.

Outside the wallTemple bells

When arriving at the top of the stairs, you will see the outer buildings first. The Temple is walled. There will still be some business in this area outside the wall (food and souvenir sellers). The left hand side picture shows one of the entrances top the walled Temple.  One of the things you will notice, still in the outside area, are the many Temple bells (rakhang in Thai). Ring them if you like.

Chedi of Doi Suthep 

Then you should prepare to enter the Holy area trough one of the entrances, shown higher on this page. As usual, you will have to take off your shoes. The giant Chedi, covered with gold, is the dominant sight inside.  It contains the Buddha relics. Wat Prathat Doi Suthep dates back from the fourteenth century. It is one of the most important remains of the Lanna culture in Thailand.

The Lanna Kingdom was a Kingdom in the North of Thailand, at about the same time as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was in charge of Central Thailand.
The chedi is surrounded by four golden "umbrella's", one of which can be seen on the picture. They seem to have a function, similar to the "corner stones" that you find around ever Buddhist Temple (Wat) in Thailand.

Buddha Image of Doi SuthepMarble Buddha Image of Doi Suthep

The "Wiharn" of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep can be seen on the left hand side picture above. You see the Buddha Images in there. As far as I have been able to track things down, they are the same age as the Temple. The large one at the back is especially impressive.  Near this Wiharn you will find the marble Buddha Image, shown on the right hand side picture above.

Buddhist Art (1)Buddhist Art (2)

Wat Prathat Doi Suthep also has  a set of very impressive murals, picturing scenes from the life and teachings of the Buddha. These two pictures show two of them.

View of Chiang MaiDown the stairs

Do not forget, before you take the steps down again, to take a good look at the view. You will have a clear view of Chiang Mai (left hand side picture). If the weather permits, you will also get a view of Chiang Mai Airport. Please realize that Chiang Mai is about 15 kilometers by road from where you are standing!

Bird watching

If you are a birder, take some time to watch the many birds in the area around the mountain, before or after you visit the Temple. Especially downstairs, next to the stairs, you can see some tropical birds, if you have some luck.

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This page was last uploaded:November 23, 2011 at 9:11