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Chiang Mai: Rose of the North

Chiang Mai: Rose of the North

Chiang Mai is the city in Northern Thailand that houses more than a million people in the metropolitan area and a population of around 170 thousand in the main area of the city. The name ‘Chiang Mai’ in Thailand means ‘New City’ and is popularly called ‘Chiengmai’. The city lies along the river Ping and has become a very modern city over time having more than five million visitors on an annual basis. The number of tourists keeps on increasing every year. The city is now called the ‘Creative City’ and is among the top two tourist places in Thailand. There are many other temples in the city. It is recorded that the city of Chiang Mai has over 300 temples and many more in the outskirts of the city. There is a specular view of many ancient and historical temples. Major among them are the Buddhist temples what have a reflection of architectural styles of the Lanna Thai, Sri Lankan and Burmese influence.


The major and significant place in the city is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. This is located 18 km away from the city to the North West. It is situated on the mountain slopes of Doi Suthep which is at a height of 1,073 meter. It was constructed in 1383, under the rule of Lanna Thai Period. The temple is considered as a very auspicious site because of the legend that claims that this spot was chosen by an elephant. The temple is reached after ascending more than 300 stairs. If you think that taking the stairs can be give you strain, then you may use the rope-way cable car. You not only get to enjoy the beautiful temple but even the beautiful landscape surrounding the temple. Being at a great height, you can see waterfalls and amazingly beautiful trees and forestation on the mountain. Many other places near the temple are also worth visiting. The Bhuping Royal Palace gardens are at a walking distance from the temple and are very striking and attractive gardens of the royalty. You will also find many local shops of handicrafts and art-crafts which are made by the tribal people but are very creative pieces and you will be stunned by the talents and designs offered there.


Wat Chedi Luang is the temple in the main centre of the Chiang Mai, only the remains of the temple are seen now as the temple was toppled in the significant earthquake of 1545 and the height of the temple became half of the original size. The temple was constructed in the year 1401 by the king Saeng Muang Ma. The ruins were preserved and many things were reconstructed to preserve this historical and holy place in the year 1912 by the Fine Arts Department with a cost of millions. It used to 80 meters tall and used to be the home of Emerald Buddha which is the most sacred relic of Thailand.


Another very important and famous attraction temple of Thailand is Wat Phra Singh. This temple is designed is Lanna style of architecture having golden patterns and red lacquer made behind the altar and it houses the image of Phra Singh. It was constructed in the year 1385-1400 AD by King Pha Yu. The temple is dedicated to his father Late King Kam Fu. There is typical repository located near the temple. They were originally made to preserve, protect and keep the mulberry paper sheets which were used by monks and scribes. The walls of this place are designed and sculpted with murals that demonstrate the customs, dresses, scenes etc. from the daily life of people during Lunna rule. The Wihai Lai Kham located at the back is a very lovely chapel and inside it holds the image of Phra Singh Buddha. The head of this image was stolen and the current image is a replacement.


Under Thai law, elephants are treated as livestock and therefore, the owner can keep them in any way they want and even beat them. Carefully choose your elephant tour but do not avoid it. A person visiting Chiang Mai must go for an elephant tour. There are many options available. The most popular among them is the Mae Sa Elephant Camp. This place is located in the hills and it exhibits an elephant show. There you can watch well-trained elephants that will be playing football and doing paintings. They also allow you to take elephant rides for half hour or complete hour. Other parks and camps are located in Chiang Mai where they take care of elephants in an extremely hygienic environment with all the love and concern. There is Baanchang Elephant Park, Eddy Elephant Care, Elephant Nature Park and Friends for Asia Elephant Camp.


The city also has museums and galleries. The main attraction among all the centres is the ‘Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre’. It is located in the centre of the old city and has modern multimedia history and is a cultural centre for the entire city. The place has demonstrations of the Pre-Muang period and early civilizations near the river. Others are the Chiang Mai National museum, Numismatic Museum, University Art Museum, Postal Museum, etc.

The entire is full of active vibes and is a mixed and blended area of old traditional and new modernized place. This city must be visited if you are in Thailand.

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