Wat Chedi Liam (formerly Wat Ku Kham) is the main temple of the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam, King Mengrai's residence before he established Chiang Mai. The chedi was built circa 1287, and is one of the very few remaining examples of the Hariphunchai style, from the pre-Thai Mon kingdom centred on modern-day Lamphun. In fact, it is a replica of Lamphun's Mahapol Chedi at Wat Cham Devi.
The square, five-tiered chedi is guarded at the base by outward-facing lions at each of the corners. The 60 Buddhas sheltered in the niches display different mudras (hand gestures). They are said to commemorate the king's 60 wives. All but one wear Burmese-style yellow robes. This stems back to 1908 when Luang Yonakanvijit, an ethnic Mon from Burma, financed Wat Chedi Liam's restoration using Burmese artisans.
Wat Chedi Liam is the main starting point for touring the remains of Wiang Kum Kam. The sites are too spread out for walking, so are best covered by bicycle or motorcycle. You can also hire a calash or take a tourist trolley. We stopped here on SpiceRoads Cycle Tours' half-day Chiang Mai Highlights itinerary. (Brian K. Smith photo.)
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