Wat Chedi Luang
Also known as Jedi Luang and The Temple of the Great Stupa, located within the old walled city, it is one of Chiang Mai’s most important Wats. The obvious structure of the Wat is a huge chedi that dominates the area. The construction was ordered by King Saen Muang Ma as a place to enshrine his fathers ashes. Construction was started in 1391 but was not finished until 1475 during the reign of King Tilokarat. At 85 meters tall and 44 meters wide, at its completion it was the largest structure in Chiang Mai. In 1468 the Emerald Buddha, which is the most revered Buddha image, was housed here but later moved to Laos and has now found its way to Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. For the 600th anniversary of the chedi, a reproduction of the Emerald Buddha was placed in one of the chedi niches. 1545 brought a massive earthquake to the area which destroyed much of the chedi but it was partially restored in the 1990’s. All four sides have large staircases flanked by guardian Naga creatures. At the top of the stairs are niches where Buddha images are enshrined. Just below the top of the stairs is a platform with stone elephants.
The Wat grounds include 2 viharns. The first chedi, built in 1928, is a large impressive building with a 3 tiered roof and front facade in golden colors. Two rows of round columns support the high red ceiling. Cast in the 14th century, a large Buddha image standing in the Abhaya mudra posture is found opposite the entrance. The second much smaller viharn has an elegantly decorated front facade with intricate wood carvings. Large Naga’s guard the entrance stairs. Next to this viharn is a small Burmese style pavilion.
In 1296, Chiang Mai’s city pillar was housed at Wat Inthakin but in 1880 it was moved and placed in a small building at Wat Chedi Luang. The city pillar is important because the local people believe it protects the city. Next to the city pillar are 3 huge Dipterocarp trees which are also believed to protect the city. Legend has it that if the tree closest to the city pillar were to fall, a great catastrophe will hit the city.
Also on the grounds is a bell tower and a small building housing a reclining Buddha image.
The Wat is located in the center of the old walled city of Chiang Mai.