The centerpiece of Wat Chedi Luang, which according to its Wikipedia entry, means the temple of the big stuppa is this enormous stuppa in the center of the temple complex. Construction was begun by one of the Lanna kings in the 1300s, though the stuppa was not completed until the mid-fifteenth century, only to be damaged by an earthquake one hundred years later. A restoration was undertaken in the 1990s, though this has been the subject of controversy as some claim new elements in the reconstruction are in the Central Thai style, not Lanna style. Well, it’s all Thai to me. I felt quite fortunate to get a group of young monks in the foreground instead of a crowd of Chinese tourists.
In addition to being a very striking building, the library at Wat Phra Singh is an example of classical Lanna architecture, or so I have read. Before the modern Thai state began to take shape in the late 18th century, a Lan Na kingdom centered in Chiang Mai ruled much of the northern part of what is now Thailand. The history is complex and I certainly only know the barest outline. But Lanna as a tradition (and a marketing buzzword) is alive and well in Chiang Mai today – Lanna architecture, Lanna style, Lanna cuisine, Lanna massage, et cetera, et cetera… Be that as it may, Wat Phra Singh has one cool library building.
Wat Phra Singh is a large, wealthy temple complex in the center of Chiang Mai’s old city. I walked in when the apprentice monks were being led by elder monks in chants in the largest of the temples. I wanted a picture or two, but about the time I got ready to point and shoot, the chanting stopped and everybody got up and filed out of the temple. I did, however, get a number of images of the grounds, of which this is one.
This photo was taken in late May when I visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. Passed right by this image the first time I looked at the pictures I shot that day, but a second look got me to reconsider. The roof moving off into the distance on the right, I think, makes the composition very dynamic. This movement really sets off the two people—the woman in her lovely rainbow colored serape—framed by the white columns as they escape the blistering hot sun for a few moments.
This morning I set out with Jason, an American friend met in Chiang Mai, to visit quiet, lovely Wat Pha Lat. The trip involved a gentle 45 minute climb up to the temple complex. Wat Pha Lat is in fact on the road up the mountain to the larger, better known and more visited Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which is sort of the center piece of Thailand’s Doi Suthep – Pui National Park in the mountains to the west of Chiang Mai. But it was nice to come at this smaller temple on foot, getting some exercise in the process.