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Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep Chiang Mai
Perched on a panoramic hilltop, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (admission 30B) is one of the north’s most sacred temples. The site was ‘chosen by an honoured Buddha relic mounted on the back of a white elephant; the animal wandered until it stopped (and died) on Doi Suthep, making this the relic’s new home. A snaking road ascends the hill to a long flight of steps, lined by ceramic-tailed naga, that leads up to the temple and the expansive views of the valley below. Watching the sunset from up here is an institution.
The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.
According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream; in this dream god told him to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and is said to have found a bone, which many claim was Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move itself and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled the Sukhothai.
The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.
The power of the chedi and the sanctuary attract many visitors who are invited to make merit. The sanctuary contains numerous boxes for donations to worthy causes, such as the education of the needy.