Wat Chedi Luang
King Saen Muang Ma (regined.1385-1401) Started to construct Wat Chedi Luang in 1391 to house the remains of his late father, Ku Na. After 10 years of construction the building was halted, later building was resumed by his widow. Then due to political instability it was not completed til mid-15th century under the reign the reign of King Tilokaraj.
The Chedi Luang reached a towering height of 84m (280 ft high.) and was supported by a base diameter of 54 m, at that time the largest building of all the Lanna Kingdom. In 1468, the Emerald Buddha (now located in the Bangkok) was installed in the eastern alcove. In 1545, the top 30 m of the structure collapsed after a severe earthquake. Then six years later, in 1551, the Emerald Buddha was moved to Luang Prabang (now part of Laos) by the king.
Five years on, the city of Chiang Mai was over run by the invading Burmese forces. who controled if for years. It was said that the chedi was even further destroyed, later by King Taskin canon fire driving out the Burmese. The chedi was not rebuilt til recently, but even at its reduced height (60m) it still was the tallest structure in Chiang Mai until very recent times with the advent of high rise hotels like the Mae Ping Hotel.
Over the years several more viharns were erected the temple grounds; the largest one was built in 1928 a boom time for temple construction in Chiang Mai.
In the start of the 1990s Chedi Luang under went major reconstruction, funded partly by UNESCO and partly the Japanese government. Some experts rightly claim the replaced sections are in Central Thai design, not truly Lanna style. (It seems the central Government does not wish to the unique style and culture of the former Lanna Kingdom, except to adopt ones the tourist may like.) In 1995 in honour the 600th anniversary of Wat Chedi Luang, a reproduction of the original Emerald Buddha was created out of "black jade" and installed in the now reconstructed eastern alcove of the Chedi. The Buddha image is officially Phra Phut Chaloem Sirirat, however it is locally called "Phra Yok".
The great old Dipterocarp tree just inside the entrance is one of three items revered as the protectors of the city of Chiang Mai. The story goes if this ancient tree falls, a truly great catastrophe will come next.
The next protector of Chiang Mai is the city pillar (Lak Mueang) or "Spirit of the City" , which is housed in the tiny but so important cross-shaped building next to the Dipterocarp tree at the entrance. The pillar was relocated here from its historical location of Wat Sadoe Muang around 1800.
Wat Phan Tao is also on Wat Chedi Luang temple grounds it is another separate temple, Wat Phan Tao. It has a wooden viharn complete with beautiful wood carvings around the door and roof gables and houses a large reclining Buddha inside.