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Chiang Mai, is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. Capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, at its peak a centre for art, culture, religion, literature and tradition, it has survived and prospered for some 700 years. The city is renowned for its numerous temples. Within the walls of the old city alone there are 100 temples. Altogether there are 373 temples within the city district of Chiang Mai.

Wat Prasat (วัดปราสาท) , one of the most famous of the 100 temples within the old city, is a fine example of traditional Lanna architecture. It dates back at least as far as the 16th century CE, or probably still older.

The most important building in the temple complex is the old wooden viharn or sermon hall, dating back to 1823. This viharn was tastefully renovated in 1987. Built in traditional and distinctively Lanna style, the viharn is built of skillfully-crafted teak wood panels on a whitewashed brick and stucco base. The main entrance, which naturally faces east, is reached by a low flight of steps flanked by naga balustrades.

The name Prasat, I believe, originates from the Sanskrit word for Palace. I would stand corrected if the word carries a different meaning in Thailand.

I was impressed with the interiors of Wat Prasat - elegantly understated, with tall red painted teak pillars supporting a low-slung, tiled Lanna roof. Unusually, at the western end of the building where the altar would usually be, there is instead an elaborately decorated entrance to the short ‘tunnel’ leading to the contiguous chedi, the latter housing a large gilded Buddha image called Phra Pratan, that is only partly visible from the viharn due to its size.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7748 W: 324 N: 15567] (54877)
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