Wat Chedi Luang is one of the two most impressive temples within the old walled city area of Chiang Mai.
Wat Chedi Luang is open to visitors every day from 06:00 to 18:00. Foreign visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of 40 THB.
About Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang is the ‘Temple of the Great Stupa’. A stupa, often referred to as a chedi in Thailand, is a large tower inside which holy relics or the ashes of Kings or Queens are enshrined.
The Great Stupa
The chedi at Wat Chedi Luang was originally somewhere between 82 and 85 metres tall and over 50 metres wide at the base. Construction on the chedi began in 1395 on orders from Lanna King Saen Muang Ma which the intention of burying his father’s ashes inside, however, the massive project in fact took until 1475 to complete. Unfortunately, a large section of the chedi fell down in 1545 during an earthquake and since then it has only been partially reconstructed.
On each side of the chedi, above the base, is a niche where a statue was placed. One of the statues originally placed in a niche was the famous Emerald Buddha statue which stayed there from 1468 to 1551. A copy of the Emerald Buddha, made from black jade, was placed in the vacant niche in 1995, the 600 year anniversary of the date when construction of the chedi began.
As well as the massive chedi, Wat Chedi Luang has several other buildings of interest to see.
Main Prayer Hall
The largest building after the chedi is the main prayer hall located near to the entrance to the temple. This grand and ornate building was constructed in 1928.
Inside the main prayer hall at Wat Chedi Luang is a large standing Buddha statue cast in the late 14th Century for the temple. The statue is called the Phra Chao Attarot.
Wat Chedi Luang covers a large and contains lots more buildings and shrines. This is partly because the temple was created by combining two smaller temples each with their own set of temple buildings.
Second Prayer Hall
There is a second smaller prayer hall at Wat Chedi Luang which is made of wood set on a concrete base. This smaller prayer hall is a beautiful example of a distinctive Lanna style building.
City Pillar Shrine
Another distinctive feature of Wat Chedi Luang is that Chiang Mai’s city pillar shrine is located within it grounds. Chiang Mai’s City Pillar Shrine pre-dates the wider tradition of installing city pillar shrines in other parts of Thailand which started with the installation of a City Pillar Shrine in Bangkok in 1782. Chiang Mai’s City Pillar Shrine was built in 1296 at different temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Inthakin, before being moved to Wat Chedi Luang in 1800.
Unlike the city pillar shrines in Bangkok and most other provinces in Thailand, the city pillar shrine at Wat Chedi Luang does not feature a large column of acacia wood but rather a tall plinth under a Buddha statue above which is a pointed roof. The wall murals around inside the shrine are interesting also as they depict scenes from the history of the temple including the earth quake which toppled the chedi. Visitors should note that women are not allowed inside this shrine and never have been since the time it was first built.
Location of Wat Chedi Luang
- Wat Chedi Luang is located 1.9 km walking distance from the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 1.