Wat Chedi Luang
One of Chiang Mai’s most important and sacred temples is Wat Chedi Luang, located in the ancient part of the city. This is a must-visit destination, especially for visitors who come to Chiang Mai for its historic side.
This temple is possibly the largest and oldest structure in ancient Chiang Mai as it dates back to around the year 1440.
1. History of Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang is also famous for the name “Temple of the Great Stupa”. In Thai, Chedi means a stupa, which is a large tower inside enshrined holy relics, or the ashes of Kings or Queens. Initially, it consisted of two temples named Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin, which were now merged into one.
The main chedi at Wat Chedi Luang was initially approximately 85 meters tall and over 50 meters wide at the base. This historic spot dates back over 600 years with the first construction during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma.
Around the year 1395, the King commanded to build the chedi in order to bury and store his father’s ashes. However, according to some researchers, this massive project took about 80 more years to complete in 1475. Unfortunately, later, a large part fell down for some controversial reasons. Since then, it has been partially reconstructed but the tower has never been completely restored.
2. The highlight of Wat Chedi Luang
Come to Wat Chedi Luang, visitors will have the chance to witness the marks of time on every wall and to hear the stories about the temple, and the land from the monks living here. Apart from the famous Chedi ruins, Wat Chedi Luang also has other attractions, such as the replica of the Emerald Buddha, two Viharns, the City Pillar, and Dipterocarp Trees.
As we mentioned before, one of the most popular features of Wat Chedi Luang is the huge chedi.
To explain the reason why a large part of the chedi was destroyed, there are two theories to when this chedi was destroyed. The first theory is that it was destroyed during an enormous earthquake in 1545, and the second is that it was destroyed by cannon fire during the Burmese war back in 1775. Whatever the reason it is, at least 30 m of the height was lost.
On each side of the chedi are four staircases that are flanked by the Naga (Thai sacred serpent). At the top of each staircase displayed numerous Buddhist statues.
Emerald Buddha Reproduction
Wat Chedi Luang is widely known as the former home of the Emerald Buddha. Nowadays, a jade replica is stored at the eastern niche of Wat Chedi Luang while the real Emerald Buddha is displayed at the famous Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
When the construction of Wat Chedi Luang began, the king decided that this temple would also be the new home to one of Thailand’s most sacred objects. For nearly a century, the famous Emerald Buddha was housed at Wat Chedi Luang.
Until a few years after, the temple was partially destroyed. It was then moved to Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok and replaced by a replica still there today. The replica statute can be found in one of the niches at the top of a staircase.
At Wat Chedi Luang, visitors can also pray or show your respect at the viharns (sanctuaries or prayer halls). The oldest as well as the most impressive was built back in 1928. With the appearance of a three-tiered roof and gold ornate decoration, the viharn is a work of art.
As you walk to the entrance, you will meet a Buddha statue called Phra Chao Attarot. The figure was made at the same time with the construction of the original Wat Chedi Luang. Therefore, just like the temple, this Buddha statue also holds great historical and cultural significance
The other viharn is smaller but its lovely look won’t make you disappointed. Though a little smaller, it is also decorated in an elegant and ancient style. Visitors will love the intricate wood carvings and two nagas that guard the entrance.
City Pillar and Dipterocarp Trees
In the complex of Wat Chedi Luang, there is a small building on the temple grounds that is home to the Sao Inthakin (Pillar of Lord Indra), also known as the City Pillar.
It was first built in Wat Inthakin in 1296 and was moved to Wat Chedi Luang in 1800. According to local legend, Sao Inthakin was brought down to earth by spirits to protect the residents of Chiang Mai.
Next to the building are three giant Dipterocarp trees. These are also said to play a part in protecting the city. The locals believed that if the trees ever fall, a catastrophe will befall Chiang Mai.
3. How to get there
It’s not hard to visit Wat Chedi Luang since it’s located inside the walls of the old city and close to other major temples. The temple is located on Prapokklao Road, which runs north to south along the center of the old city, between Chiang Mai Gate and Changpuak Gate. The main entrance can be found opposite the Prapokklao road, to the South of Ratchadamnoen road.
To get to Wat Chedi Luang, visitors can use taxis or hop on any songthaew and they will get you to this famous temple.
4. Tickets and other practicalities
Adult: 40 Bath
Child: 20 Bath
Free for Thai people
Daily from 8 am to 5 pm
Wat Chedi Luang is a temple, so pay attention to your clothes when visiting this interesting historical site. As with the other temples, your clothes have to be culturally appropriate. Visitors with unappropriates clothes can be refused to come inside Wat Chedi Luang.