Wat Chedi Luang is one of the most important temples, and the largest religious structure, in Chiang Mai. King Saen Muang Ma began its construction in 1395 to enshrine the remains of his father. However, it wasn't completed until the reign of King Tilokarat (1441-1485). In 1468, the highly revered Emerald Buddha was brought from Lampang and installed in the eastern niche. An earthquake in 1545 caused the top 30 metres of the chedi to collapse. The Emerald Buddha was then moved to Luang Prabang in 1547 when Prince Setthathirath became king of Lan Xang. An oversized black jade replica, called Phra Phut Chaloem Sirira (Phra Yok), now occupies the niche, after it was created for the 600th anniversary of the temple in 1995. (Brian K. Smith photo.)
The city pillar (Inthakhin, lak muang) of Chiang Mai is also located here. It was moved in 1800 from Wat Sadoe Muang, near the Three Kings monument, by Prince Kawila after he recaptured Chiang Mai from the Burmese. Many believed Chiang Mai's misfortunes of that period were due to a failure of showing proper respect to the city's guardian spirits. Therefore, Kawila built a special pavilion for it and planted three yang (dipterocarpus alatus) trees. Each year, the Sai Khan Dok Festival, unique to Chiang Mai, is held here to venerate the Sao Inthakin spirits.
Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, one of the founders of the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhist monasticism, who was briefly the Abbot of Wat Chedi Luang, is commemorated here in his own viharn. Inside, is an extremely life-like wax figure of the meditation master and his relics. The Lanna campus of Mahamakut Buddhist University, for monks of the reformist Thammayut sect, is also within the temple grounds.
Wat Chedi Luang
103 Phrapokklao Road
Tambon Phrasing, Amphoe Muang
Chiang Mai, Thailand
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