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A must see, on any visit to Chiang Mai, is the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep - a Theravada Buddhist temple located near the top of Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep). Looming over the city like guardian spirits and providing a sanctuary of forest and mountain cool air, Chiang Mai's sacred peaks, Doi Suthep (1676m) and Doi Pui (1685m) were used by the city's founders as a divine compass in locating an auspicious position. Suthep was named after the hermit Sudeva, who lived on the mountain's slopes for many years.

Built in 1383, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is still a working monastery today. From the car park, one has to walk up the 300 steps of the intricately carved mythical Naga Serpent Staircase to reach the complex

On reaching the top, one is at awe with the sight of the golden chedi or spire which decorates the centre of the mountain top temple. The walls around the spire form a mini enclave and are richly decorated with historical murals and shrines and some fine statues of Buddha, Each Each shrine is filled with more statues of Buddhas than the last. We just sat in awe at the diversity and sheer volume of Buddha statues, unlike anything we’d ever seen. Locals and visitors from around the world visit the temple with elaborate gift baskets as offerings to the monks. Unexpected items, such as toothpaste, vitamins and colored pencils fill the baskets as well as the expected fresh fruit, sweets and cash.

Here is a fine golden statue of Buddha setting out for a journey of learning, the 'journey within', with the backdrop of the famous golden chedi

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7750 W: 324 N: 15594] (54999)
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