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Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai Overview

Wat Chedi Luang or ‘the temple of the Great Stupa’ is a Buddhist temple inside the old city in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The current temple grounds originally consisted of three temples — Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmi. The construction of the temple started in the 14th century under King Saen Muang Ma who planned to bury the ashes of his father there, due to prolonged issues the Wat was finally completed in the 15th century under the reign of King Tilokaraj.

Wat Chedi Luang is home to the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most important religious relics. The original statue of Emerald Buddha was first kept here in 1468, and the original Chedi or Pagoda of the temple is said to have been over 80 metres high. But during an earthquake in 1545, the upper 30 metres of the structure collapsed, and in 1551 the original statue of the Emerald Buddha was moved to Luang Prabang in Laos.

The main Chedi of this temple was reconstructed in the 1990s under the patronage of UNESCO and the Japanese government. However, the construction style did not match the original architecture and was considered controversial. In 1995, on the 600th anniversary of the Chedi of this temple, a copy of the Emerald Buddha in black jade was placed in the eastern niche, which housed the original Emerald Buddha as well.

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Highlights of Wat Chedi Luang

The Reclining Buddha
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The Main Chedi
The main Chedi of this temple which stands at 60 metres is a towering structure that can be seen from anywhere in the old city and is worth a closer inspection. Though the architecture of the new Chedi is different from the old Chedi, it is still striking and intricate and a great place for photo-ops.

The Elephant Sculptures
At the base on the south side of the main Chedi are five eye-catching elephant sculptures. The staircases on all four sides of the Chedi are flanked by serpents, thus enhancing the ancient beauty of the structure.

Stone Carvings
At the top of all four staircases, there are small niches that contain noteworthy images of Buddha in stone.

The New Emerald Buddha
The new statue of the Emerald Buddha is a holy relic and without a doubt, deserves to be seen.

Phra Chao Attarot
There is also a beautiful standing Buddha statue known as Phra Chao Attarot in the larger prayer hall or ‘Viharn’ here. Do take a look at it as well.

The Reclining Buddha
There is also a smaller building on the temple grounds where there is a beautiful statue of reclining Buddha.

Sao Inthakin
Another building within the premises contains the holy city pillar known as Sao Inthakin, which locals believe protects the city.

Wat Phan Tao
On the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang also lies a smaller temple called Wat Phan Tao that should be visited. This tiny temple surrounded by a garden is made of beautifully carved teak and has a serene golden statue of Buddha in its main prayer hall.

The Temple Location

The Wat Chedi Luang temple is on Prapokklao Road, which runs north to south along the centre of the old city between Chiang Mai Gate and Changpuak Gate. The main entrance of the temple is to the South of Ratchadamnoen road, opposite Prapokklao road. Once you’re in the old city, the temple should be easy to spot since the new Chedi of the temple is still one of the tallest structures in Chiang Mai.

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