Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai, Thailand
high-definition creative commons photographs from this old temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, showing the architecture, statues and decoration work, together with further information.
Wat Suan Dok, which roughly translates as Flower Garden Temple, was founded by King Kue Na of Lanna for the monk Sumana Thera in the year 1370 CE. The temple was built in the centre of Wiang Suan Dok, a fortress of the Lawa people, which is older than Chiang Mai itself. The outlines of the fortifications can clearly be traced on satellite images, and remains of some of the earthen walls can still be seen north of Suthep road. King Kue Na's flower garden, which was located here, lent the Temple its original name: Wat Buppharam Dok Mai, or Wat Suan Dok Mai for short.
According to legend, Ven. Sumana Thera, a monk from the Sukhothai Kingdom, after having had a vision, discovered a relic of the Buddha which, also according to the same vision, was to be housed in Chiang Mai. Sumana Thera stayed two rainy seasons at Wat Phra Yuen just outside Lamphun at the invitation of King Kue Na while the latter had Wat Buppharam Dok Mai built.
When the moment arrived for the relic to be housed in the newly built Temple, it miraculously duplicated itself. One of the relics was housed, as intended, in a shrine inside Wat Buppharam Dok Mai, while the other relic was placed on the back of a white elephant which then climbed up Doi Suthep, the mountain directly west of Chiang Mai, where it trumpeted three times and died. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was built on that spot to house the second relic.
The large Viharn or Sala Kan Prian (Sermon Hall) is located directly east of the main Chedi. It was built in 1932 by the famous monk Kru Ba Srivichai, who also had an Ubosot built as well as the main Chedi restored. The main Buddha statues inside the Sala Kan Prian are placed so that they look out at opposite directions.
The statue of the Buddha calling the Earth to witness looks towards the East, whereas the other statue, a standing Buddha holding a bundle of straw, faces West towards the Chedi. Placed in front of the seated statue one finds a smaller Buddha in the Lanna style, created during King Kue Na's time. The feet of this statue are unusual in that the toes are individually formed. Flanking the images are more statues of the Buddha, some of which are from the 1930s.
The large 48-meter high bell shaped Chedi - built in Sri Lankan style - can be seen from afar. A relic of the Buddha is said to be contained within. Stairs on all four sides originally led up to the narrow terrace encircling the Chedi but these have since been replaced by ramps, the balusters of which are decorated with seven-headed Nagas emerging from the mouths of Makaras, as is typical for the classic Lanna style.
A grouping of white-washed mausoleums, which house the cremation ashes of members of the royal family of Chiang Mai, is located in the northwestern quarter of the Temple grounds. At the beginning of the 20th century, Princess Dara Rasmi, one of the wives of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and daughter of the Lanna King Inthawichayanon, had the ashes collected from around Chiang Mai to be interred at their present setting.
Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, August 1st 2011
Mausoleums of the Royal Family of Chiang Mai with Doi Suthep in the Background
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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