Wat Doi Suthep (built 1386 onward)
High in the hills above Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep temple, a spectacular shrine commissioned by King Kuena, ruler of Chiang Mai from 1367-88. According to an old legend, the king was persuaded to build the temple when the monk Sumana presented him with a bone relic of the historical Buddha. The king searched far and wide for a suitable spot to build the temple, but none could be found. Finally, he resolved to let fate decide its location, and he tied the relic to the back of an elephant and set it loose. For days the elephant stomped through the jungle, shadowed by the king's men, until it reached the mountaintop of Doi Suthep. The elephant made a good choice because the king readily agreed to the spot. Construction began 1386 and was completed within a few years.
Doi Suthep sits a good thousand meters above the surrounding landscape, so it is a great place to view the countryside. Once the difficult ascent had to be made on foot, but a motor road was added in 1935 and a funicular (lift) was recently installed as well.
Image credits: All images copyright 2000 Professor Robert D. Fiala of Concordia University, Nebraska, USA.
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