Thursday, 1 October 2009

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang วัดพระธาตุลำปางหลวง

About 20 kilometers from Lampang is the old temple of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang.
On first glance, this walled citadel sited on a man-made mound of earth has a very fortress-like look to it. That's because the temple was built on the site of an eighth century fortification, called a wiang, that guarded the routes to Lampang.
The temple buildings seen today were built in the fifteenth century, and one of the reasons for the temple's popularity is the relatively pure state of all the temple buildings. Unlike most of the temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang hasn't been 'improved' to conform to modern Thai ideas about temples.
The courtyard is still filled with sand, and the huge main wiharn (prayer hall) is still open on all sides.To enter the temple, you must pass a pair of guardian lions and climb the naga stairway up to the massive main gate. The main prayer hall, the Wiharn Luang, stands close inside the main entrance. The wiharn is open on all four sides, forming a huge covered hall. Sturdy columns support the roof.
The columns are finished in black lacquer and stenciled with gold leaf designs.At the back of the Wiharn Luang sits a massive gilded ku, a sort of Laotian prang sheltering the main Buddha image. The Buddha image is the Phra Chao Lang Thong, cast in 1563. On either side of the Ku are throne-like pulpits, sometimes used by monks but more often used to house other Buddha images on important ceremonial days. Behind the main prayer hall stands the 45 meter tall chedi. The chedi was faced with copper and bronze sheets, which over the centuries have oxidized into a variety of green and blue shades. The chedi has somehow escaped the gilding which is now universally applied to chedis, even if they weren't originally built that way.
Flanking the chedi on the south side is another prayer hall, the Wiharn Phra Phut, a small chapel built in 1802 with a beautifully carved fascade. Behind the Wiharn Phar Phut is a tiny tower-like structure, the Ho Phra Phuttabat. It houses a Buddha footprint sculpture. The building is generally only open on important festival dates, and may never be entered by women.Wat Phra That Lampang Luang was one of the Nine top Thai spots named by The Bangkok Post's online travel campaign.

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