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WAT PHRA THAT DOI SUTHEP A SACRED BUDDHIST TEMPLE CHIANGMAI THAILAND

July 31, 2011

A Poem

Dear Editor:

I’ve been living in Chiang Mai for 6 months and I’m trying to get this girl at the coffee shop to go out with me. I know sonnets are a bit 17th century but I thought perhaps if you published this one it might swing things a little in my favour. Well could we at least give it a try?

To Thanya

The land is wild and fragrant. In the night
Strange perfumes stonewall the motorcycle, and the crake
and hoot of unseen watchers stake out the dark.

There is a girl. Her sorcery liquefies light
into coffee glasses, hooped with creams,
frothed-up with hazelnuts, cinnamon and mint.

That’s not the half of it. Tall and elegant
she walks like Sita on the coals, and seems
untrammelled by the world; a calm, deep pool,
unfathomed and still, the surface rippling gently with a smile
that seems to reflect a clarity within her, mellow and cool.
I’ve asked her go out with me. She’s not declined;
Though it feels like demanding the sun to pale
a little. I tumble headlong into her great, dark eyes.

P.S. If it doesn’t work and there are other interested parties out there my phone number is 0884 163 581.

Taliesin

 

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep; the spectacular Buddhist temple that can be seen, from wherever you happen to be in the city, clinging to the mountainside near the summit of Doi Suthep.

Doi Suthep hill has been seen as a holy place for more than twelve hundred years. The original inhabitants, the Lua, believed that the souls of their ancestors resided on the hilltop. When Buddhism was embraced by the Siamese people, the hill became the epicentre of the universe, and the centre of Buddhism in Lanna.
The temple was built in the late 14th century under King Geu Na, and attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

Overlooking Chiang Mai from its lofty perch, some 3,500 feet (1,053 meters) above sea level, the view of the city, and the Ping valley beyond, is breathtaking.

Once there, ONE is rewarded by the grandeur of this magnificent Lanna-style wat. The main deck comprises several pavilions with red-tiled roofs. There were a tower of large bell and Sal (“Sala” in Thai) tree to the right (The tree could be reformed as an anspicious tree that provided Lord Buddha as a unborn baby who was about to be delivered by his mother).  A junior bell tower, a Shrine of Thao Mahaprom (Brahma) Statue, a Shrine of Hermit Statue of Sudeva whose name for Doi Suthep as well as Suthep road, a Bodhi tree (“Po” in Thai) was brought from India, Lord Buddha spent many years for self-taught under that tree. A white elephant statue, the symbol of the elephant who carried the Buddha’s relic to the hilltop, gards the pagoda and welcome the visitors. Turning back and step through an archway from the main deck, one enters cool closters surrounding a stunning, golden painted pagoda, or chedi; one of the most sacred in all Thailand.

As visitors walk through the rectangular shaped terrace around the main chapel and pagoda, they will see no fewer than 47 wall paintings.These murals illustrate the lives of Buddha and the Jataka(Shadok) tales of Buddha’s past lives before he reached the state of Nirvana. Although he lived many lives, it is the ten immediately preceding his birth that are most important to Thai Buddhists.

Within the pavilions are living quarters and a school for monks. Novices are sent here to study the teachings of the Lord Buddha, and to be educated in broadly the same subjects as are taught in every other school in the country.

A Ceylonese monk, Sumana, came to spread Theravada Buddhism to the people of the Srisajjanalai and Sukothai kingdoms. He dreamt that the supreme being appeared before him and urged him to unearth the Buddha’s relic at the site of the pagoda’s ruins.He took the relic to the king of Srisajjanalai who was delighted, and ordered that a special mansion be erected for the relic’s safekeeping. Sumana was then invited to show the relic to the king of Sukothai, but when no miracle followed the king doubted the authenticity of the relic and told Sumana to take it away with him. As a devoted Buddhist, King Gue Na sent a delegation to Sukothai to invite Sumana to Chiang Mai. The monk traveled to northern Thailand, stopping at Lumpoon, where he stayed for two years. On arrival in Chiang Mai, he stayed at Wat Boobparaam, or Wat Suan Dawg, and discussed the building of a sacred pagoda to house the relic. When he removed the relic from its packaging, he found that it had split into two pieces. They decided that one piece should be housed at Wat Suandawg, and the other would be housed in a special place.

Legend has it that the site of the temple was chosen in a most unusual way. King Geu Na ordered that a relic of the holy Buddha was strapped to the back of a sacred white elephant, and the beast was turned loose. After crashing its way up the densely forested mountainside, the elephant stopped just short of the summit of Doi Suthep, trumpeted its last breath and fell dead to the ground.

The king ordered that a golden pagoda be built where the elephant lay, and the Buddha relic to be housed therein. The wat was then constructed around the golden chedi.

Later, in the reign of King Phra Muang Ketklao in 1552, the structure was heightened and modified to its present state.

The multi-faceted chedi is in the shape of a bell, in unique Lanna style.
The temple has withstood two earthquakes, suffering minor damage in the first and more serious devastation during the second, leading to extensive repairs being carried out. Owing to the vast amount of daily visitors to the temple, structural work has been completed to strengthen and support the grand terrace.

TEMPLE

TEMPLE DOOR DETAIL
TEMLE DOOR DETAIL
TEMPLE
TEMPLE IDOL
TEMPLE BELL
CEREMONIAL ELEPHANT
BUDDHIST STATUES
BUDDHIST IDOL
TEMPLE BELLS
TEMPLE STATUE
TEMPLE STATUE
CEREMONIAL ELEPHANT
CHEDI (BUDDHIST MONUMENT) AND CEREMONIAL FILIGREE PARASOL

MONKS CHANTING PRAYERS

BUDDHIST MONKS CHANTING PRAYERS

MONKS CHANTING PRAYERS
BUDDHIST FOLLOWERS CHANTING PRAYERS
BURNING OIL AS AN ACT OF WORSHIP

A VIEW OF CHIANG MAI FROM THE WAT PHRATHAT DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE
PHOTOS BY:
LEONARD EPSTEIN
JANELLE BURGESS
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