Those searching for spirituality during their time in Chiang Mai should pilgrimage to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, more commonly known as just Doi Suthep. The sacred shrine holds a revered place in the hearts of Thais due to its historical significance and location 25 kilometers outside the city center, on top of Doi Suthep mountain in the dense forests of the Doi Suthep National Park. In addition, the Doi Suthep temple is a fantastic place to visit for sightseeing because of its breathtaking view of the Chaing Mai metropolitan area.
Another attraction is the divine and one-of-a-kind design of the temple at the top of Mount Suthep in Chiang Mai. Giant Naga (Serpent) structures can be seen along the staircase from the beginning of the stairwell near the Parking zone, providing an introduction to the wonders of Thai architecture. When you reach the peak, you’ll have a breathtaking view of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that will have you completely smitten.
Legend of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Although there are several versions of the Doi Suthep temple’s history, many believe it was built in response to an incident that Thai people still consider a good omen. According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera was instructed in his dreams to retrieve a relic from Pang Cha. When he got there, he found a bone that was said to be Lord Buddha’s shoulder bone. This assumption turned into belief when the bone demonstrated its ability to glow, replicate, and vanish.
Sumanathera took the bone to King Dhammaraja of Sukhothai and later to King Nu Naone of Lan Na, intending to restore the holy relic to its proper place in society. When the monk arrived in Lamphun, the bone broke into two pieces, one housed at Wat Suan Dok. The remaining longer piece was tied to the back of a white elephant, which carried it to the peak of Doi Suthep. When the white elephant reached the summit, it is said to have trumpeted three times before dying peacefully.
King Nu Naone, believing this to be an omen, had the temple built at the site of the animal’s death. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, or Doi Suthep temple, was the name given to the temple. It is still believed that a piece of Lord Buddha’s shoulder bone can be found between the rounded portion of the Chedi above the octagonal section and the temple’s ringed section. This can also be deduced from the name: Phra represents Buddha’s image, which means relic. When the two words are combined, the meaning of Buddha’s relic is revealed.
The architecture of Doi Suthep
The architecture of the Doi Suthep temple is regarded as among the best in Thailand. After parking your car, you must climb 309 steps to reach the temple’s main compound. According to Thai culture, the climb is intended to accrue Buddhist merit. You will be greeted at the start of the staircase by beautifully decorated yet massive serpent structures on either side of the stairs. As you climb them, you will notice that the vegetation around the entire path changes gradually. While the trees at the bottom are more deciduous, those at the top are lush green and densely forested.
Those who have yet to reach the summit may notice the shimmer Doi Suthep casts over Chiang Mai. Aside from that, the architecture and interiors of the Phra Ubosot or the Ordination Hall for performing prayers within the temple grounds should be scrutinized.