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Wat Doi Suthep

Wat (temple) Doi Suthep is believed to have been started in 1383 when the first chedi (stupa)  was built. With the passing of time the temple has grown, and has evolved into an extravagant place with many more buildings being added and even a Meditation School. A long winding road to the Wat Doi Suthep was built in 1935 by the use of elephants and hand tools only.

Till 1935, there was no road to the temple, so pilgrims and the worshipers had to make the hard climb up the mountain through the forest in order to visit the temple. So Pra Krubra Srivichai, a revered monk, decided that the temple needed a road and asked the local villages to help with this task by offering the labour need in order to cut a road out of the mountain and through the jungle to the temple.

He requested each village to be responsible to construct a mere 10 meters and with this plan in hand, the support of many villages the task was completed in only 6 months. It became a statement of pride for each village to do more than their 10 meter. This was all done by hand and animal power at the time no machines where used. The now paved road has since covered over markers honouring each village. To this day many Thai people will stop and pray at the statue honouring Srivichai, at the foot of the mountain, where the road starts, paying homage to Phat Srivichai for his great insight. It is believed to bring good luck to to do so before ascending the now easy road to Doi Suthep. Yet still one night a year thousand of Chiang Mai residents and Pilgrims  will walk up the mountain by foot to the temple. It has a carnival feel as young and old ascend the mountain and I personally advise everyone to do it if they have the chance to.

 

The story of the White Elephant and Doi Suthep Temple

According to the Thai legend, a monk called Sumanathera living in Sukhothai at the time had a dream; in his dream God told him to venture to Pang Cha and seek a Buddhist relic. Sumanathera did just that and it is said that at Pang Cha he did dig up the bone, which is believed to be Lord Buddha's shoulder bone. Upon being unearthed relic displayed mystical powers; it emitted light, it the ability to vanish, or  move by its own power as well as replicate. Sumanathera of course offered this relic to King Dharmmaraja the ruler of the Sukhothai kingdom during that period..

King Dharmmaraja made great offerings and had a grand ceremony upon Sumanathera return bearing the relic. When the relic displayed none of the amazing characteristics it was said to have  process, so the King questioned of the relic's authenticity, wanted nothing to do with it.

King Nu Naone of the smaller Lanna Kingdom to the north (now Chiang Mai - lampang) hearing of the relic and asked Sumanathera to bring it to him instead. In 1368 with King Dharmmaraja's consent, Sumanathera brought the relic to Chiang Mai for King Nu Naone.

The legend has it the relic split in two or grow into two, one piece was the exact same size as the original, the other was smaller in size than the original relic. The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at a Chedi at Wat SuanDok. The other relic was attached by the KingNunaone to the back of a great white elephant, upon being released the beast quickly and immediately run into the forest. The elephant is said to have headed  straight for Doi Suthep, [which at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain)], The White elephant loudly trumpeted three times and then suddenly died. Being interrupted as a very auspicious sign  King Nu Naone commanded his people, that a temple be erected at the exact place that the elephant died.

Today to get to Doi Suthep temple one can take a Songtaew - Seelore from the market at Chang Phuerk Gate or in front of the Ginger House on Moon Muang road near soi 9. At either place you will find red pick-ups lined up waiting to head up to the temple when full.

Our better still rent a motor bike and cruise up the mountain and enjoy the windy road and fresh mountain air.

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