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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. The temple is often referred to as "Doi Suthep" although this is actually the name of the mountain it is built on. It is located 15 kilometres from the city of Chiang Mai and is a sacred site to many Thai people.

The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time, the temple has expanded and become more extravagant with many pagodas, statues and shrines. A road to the temple was not built until 1935.

According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream in which he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. The monk accordingly went 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 its authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

However, King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and asked the monk to take it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja's permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original.

The smaller piece was enshrined at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying on the mountain. The elephant's death was interpreted as a sign and King Nu Naone ordered the construction of a temple at the site.

(Source: Wikipedea)

The temple has become a major tourist attraction in recent years due to the magnificence of its architecture and closeness to Chiang Mai. It is reached from the road by several hundred steps, but an easier option now exists in the form of an elevator. There is no charge to enter the temple, but a small fee is payable to use the elevator. The site is often crowded with many tourists and devotees vying for space.

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6228 W: 61 N: 18136] (81731)
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