HRH Princess Soamsawalee heads
celebration of Wat Chedi Luang restoration
The restoration of the main Vihara and other buildings at the famous
Wat Chedi Luang, ongoing since 2005 at a cost of 70 million baht and
completed at the beginning of this year, was recently honoured with three
days of religious celebrations including the reinstatement of the sacred
relic of the Buddha in its place at the top of the golden umbrella. The
celebrations ran from May 28 to 31, with, on May 29, the Princess
Soamsawalee Kitiyakara presiding over the ritual of the installation of the
sacred relic. The Princess also performed the opening ceremony of the
recently restored Buddhist Manuscript Library and Museum.
designs in black and gold lacquer were used on window shutters and interiors
as well s on the supporting pillars.
The restoration itself focused on the architecture of the Vihara, which was
built originally as a representation of a temple in the Buddhist 2nd Heaven
in which the goddess Indra dwells. The front arch of the building and the
principal Buddha image arch underwent reconstruction; the Buddha image
itself was untouched. The altar glass was replaced, as was the altar table
set comprising flower containers, offering bowls and candle containers, and
the painted murals which adorn the walls were also restored.
The Buddhist Manuscript Library and Museum, the restoration of which was
completed in 2008, both contain important Buddhist items such as the
Tripitaka, ancient remains from the original site and earlier buildings,
records of the history of the temple and examples of Buddhist scriptures.
Funds received through donations will be given to charity to honour His
Majesty the King and to pay respect to the late Pra
Buddhaphotchanavarabhorn, (Chan Kusalo), the former Abbot of Wat Chedi
Luang, who died on July 11, 2008.
The tiered umbrella placed on the roof
of the Vihara contains a sacred relic of the Lord Buddha.
The legendary bird, (hong), in the form of a
swan on which Brahma rode,
used in the dedication ceremony with the tiered golden umbrella, (yod chat),
and placed on the container which holds the sacred Buddha relic.
The gold-tiered umbrella, (yod chat), weighing
is carried on the back of an elephant during the procession.
A weekend get-away in Phrae
The stunning rock formations at Phae Mueang
formations resemble exotic mushrooms and chimneys.
When I was invited to Phrae by a friend of mine, I was excited,
but a little hesitant. To me, it looked like a “real Thailand”
destination, quiet and beautiful. And yet, hardly anyone goes there… Was
it worth the trip?
gilded Chedi at Wat Phra That Cho Hae is traditionally believed to house
a sacred relic of the Buddha.
At 200 kilometres’ distance from Chiang Mai, Phrae is technically not
that far, making it a close-by yet often unseen trip destination. The
province is, indeed, quite isolated from the rest of the country, being
surrounded on all sides by high hills. These beautiful mountains are
rich in dense teak forests, waterfalls, rapids and caves, while the
central lower plains are home to most of Phrae’s population.
The city of Phrae itself is quite old, with its foundation going back
more than 800 years. Its original name was Wiang Kosai, which stands for
“silk cloth” and textiles indeed still play a major part in Phrae’s
You may have noticed these indigo cotton shirts and trousers that Thai
people wear while forming or for special occasions such as the Songkran
festival. These clothes, called mo hom, are specifically made in Phrae;
the area is the best place to go shopping for them. You can witness the
process of dying in Tung Hong village, 3 kilometres outside of Phrae
The province also features an interesting combination of temples, with
styles ranging from traditional Lanna multi-tiered roofs to Burmese and
Laotian architecture. Many of the temples have unusual and individual
features, styles and artefacts.
Wat Chorm Sawan is one of the Burmese-style temples—its beautiful
architecture is quite unique. It houses interesting artefacts, amongst
which are bamboo baskets covered in lacquer or ivory sheets on which are
carved the teachings of the Buddha. Wat Luang, another fascinating
temple, is about 800 years old and hosts a museum which is open on
Saturdays. Near the old city walls, Wat Phra Non is a good example of
the famous Chiang Saen style, while Wat Sa Bo Kaeo hosts Burmese monks
who come to Thailand to study the scriptures.
The major religious temple of the province is Wat Phra That Cho Hae,
with its 33 metre tall Chedi that houses a Holy Relic. There are many
other interesting temples further out of town, but you will need your
own means of transportation. Consider visiting Phra That Phra Lo or Wat
Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri.
Phrae is also the site of Thailand’s “Grand Canyon”. Phae Mueang Phi is
indeed famous for its fantastic rock formations, mushrooms and chimneys
left by subsidence and erosion. This large depression is totally bare,
with no trees, and gives the weird feeling of being totally independent
of its setting in Thailand. Some locals still believe it is haunted by
ghosts and, as a consequence, few houses can be found around the area.
Other natural attractions include waterfalls, including the 2-level Mae
Khaem, the 3-level Tat Mok and the two Mae Koeng in Wiang Kosai National
Park. The Mae Yom National Park, with is caves, Tham Pha Nang Khoi and
Tham Cham Pu, are well worth a visit. Another interesting site is Kaeng
Luang, with its lovely scenery, rocky waters full of rapids and the
Erawan cave. Accommodation in the area is not plentiful, but visitors
can easily find a place to stay. Frequent buses leave from Chiang Mai’s
Arcade bus station, taking 3.5 hours to reach Phrae at a cost of 176