Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Buddhist Chiang Mai

I don't really know much about Buddhism but I do know they make beautiful temples and statues. The style is so completely different than anything you see in and other religion. Chiang Mai has a whole lot of temples within her borders, something like 300. We spent our first day in Chiang Mai just walking the 'temple trail' in the old city which is walled off in a big square maybe one square mile or so. Inside the old city we saw more temples than I can count and part of the reason I've been putting off writing this for months is because I knew I would probably butcher the temple names. But, to the best of my knowledge, here's the truth about the Buddhist temples of Chiang Mai. 

First stop was Wat Chedi Luang which dates back to the 14th century and was the original home of the Emerald Buddha, now a national treasure housed in Bangkok. I love the steep roof and all the intricate gold work.
Inside Wat Chedi Luang are beautiful buddha statues.
Next stop was Wat Phra Singh which is Chiang Mai's most visited temple and is a beautiful example of Lanna (the native people of Chiang Mai) art an architecture. 
Monks walking to the bells where they swipe their hand along them as they walk down the row saying prayers. We learned one of the things Buddhists believe is that if you can hear bells you are still alive so the noise is a reminder of your mortality. 

I really liked the reflecting pond with a small gold buddha looking out at the water from under the shade of the New Years decorated tree. Such a colorful and peaceful place.
Below is the ubosot which is the holiest prayer room and this one clearly displays the Lanna architectural with it's three tiered roof and intricate carvings. We were there just after New Year and just before Thai New Year so that is what all the decorations are for.
In the picture below you can see Thong Thip, the buddha, inside of Wat Phra Singh and this Wat dates back to 1345 and has royal ties.
Finally we ended our day admiring the Anusawari sam kasat, best explained by our guide book:
 Proudly wearing 14th-century royal garb, the bronze three kings monument commemorates the alliance forged between the three northern Thai-Lao kings. The statues mark one of the cities spiritual centers and have become a shrine to local residents, who regularly leave offerings of flowers, incense and candles at the bronze feet in return for blessings from the powerful spirits of the three kings. - Lonely Planet Thailand 13th Edition.
It was a very enriching day learning about the Buddhists and admiring Chiang Mai.
Love Always,


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