On the first day of our FAM trip, we were lucky to visit one of the most sacred places of Thailand. It is said visit to the beautiful city of Chiang Mai is incomplete if you do not see this place of worship. This magnificent temple, 15 kilometers away from Chiang Mai city gets it name from the mountains ‘Doi Suthep or Mount Suthep’, further it means ‘ the hermit’. Built as a Buddhist monastery, now it makes a gorgeous temple perched at 1,053 metres above sea level.
In the first half of the day we had been introduced to the colorful Thai umbrellas and the famous Thai silk on the Bo Sang road. And in the second half, we were supposed to visit the holiest shrine in Chiang Mai – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Well, not many people look forward to temple visits but I insist do not miss this one when you are in Chiang Mai. It is not only perched at a beautiful spot but it also connects you to faith, history and culture. Photo-enthusiasts will have a great time capturing the sheen and shine of the temple.
The drive to the winding mountain was super-fun. Since we had all taken a night flight and it being the first day of the trip, we were tired. No doubt, when our guide told that it would take around forty minutes to reach the temple, we thought it was the right time to re-energize ourselves with a power-nap. But as its said mountains do not let you sleep and lovely landscapes, breezy weather are beautiful distractions. While going it was hot outside but I enjoyed the up-ride. The temple entry is only till 5 p.m. , thus we had started at 4 from our hotel -Balcony.
Before the visit, we were told to dress up soberly. No shorts for boys and girls allowed. Sleeveless is not a problem, shoulders and legs should be covered. Before stepping in the main complex area, one has to put off the slippers. We did not climb through the steps and opted for the adjacent funicular that costs 20 Baht. Aah! it makes it easy but descending is fun. We came down all the 306 steps and it was fun. Honestly, I thought it would be tough since I was fatigued but it was just not difficult.
Don’t miss the Noticeable features and keep taking lovely pictures!
- 306 steps lead to the main complex area.
- The sides of the staircase are artistically decorated with a seven headed Naga design. Its vibrant and colorful.
- There is a White elephant to respect the King’s elephant
- As you enter you find a Bodhi tree, which reminds of Buddha’s meditation under one of its kinds
- 52 feet high Golden Pagoda wins all the attention and focus. It shines amazingly under the sun’s light!
- The spire looks beautiful
- The emerald green statue of Buddha is next beautiful thing in the temple tough its not real one
- There are several murals of Buddha around the temple complex depicting his stages of life
- The temple architecture reflects Lanna art and its form
- Temple complex is beautifully made up of seavral Buddha’s stutues, bells, a museum, and shrines
- The panoramic view of the city of Chiang Mai can be enjoyed from here
As our guide was very nice, he explained our everything about the bells, pagoda, temple and its history. He helped us with an activity too. With closed eyes, we had to hold a box which contained wooden sticks. One had to shake the box till the sticks fell out. The number of sticks that fell were counted and for each number there was a life prediction. I did it too and got a special message which I will take as a good luck to me.
Walking around the temple was refreshing and peaceful. One could easily find people sitting in corners and enjoying their peacefulness. Later, we also saw the monks gather together in the main temple for the evening prayers. We silently prayed with them, the sun had set and now everyone was asked to vacate the temple.
The walk down was indeed fun. Once we came down from the stairs, we were met by souvenir and eating shops. We were hungry and thus we ate a small bite too from one of the shops.
Interesting Story about the Temple History?
In the 13th century, the sixth king of Chiang Mai had felicitated the building of this. Buddha’s shoulder bone, the relic that was considered too auspicious. But one day it broke and each piece grew as big as original. One piece stayed at Wat Suan Dok. The King wanted a special place for the other thus he placed the relic on his White elephant to take it to a safe place in the jungle. The Elephant climbed and climbed to the top and this lead to the building of the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
I love visiting temples if they are clean, peaceful and do not have paid darshan options. (happens in many Indian temples) History is my weakness and I love to gather bits and pieces form here and there.
Before this curvy road was built, it used to take 5 hours to reach this temple but now its a journey of just about 40 minutes from the city. Every tuk-tuk and Songthaew truck tax knows the way to it.
Just next to the temple is the International Buddhism Center where Vipassana Insight Mediation courses take place for foreign visitors with no course fees.
Tiew Kuen Doi Festival and Northern Thailand’s largest celebrations of Maha Puja takes places at this temple every year.
My visit to this temple was part of Thailand FAM trip!Thank you TAT, New Delhi!