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Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple
Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple : The most Important Temples in Lamphun
The highlight of Lamphun is Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple, one of the most striking temples in all of Thailand.(Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was modeled after it.)The central chedi, in Chiang Saen style and said to house a hair of the Buddha, is more than 45m (148 ft.) high and dates from the 9th century, when it was built over a royal structure. The nine-tiered umbrella at the top contains 6,498.75 grams of gold, and the chedi’s exterior is of bronze. Also of interest in the temple complex are an immense bronze gong (reputedly the largest in the world), and several viharn (rebuilt in the 19th and 20th c.) containing Buddha images. According to legend, the Buddha visited a hill about 16km (10 miles) southeast of town, where he left his footprint; the site is marked by Wat Phra Phuttabat Tak Pha.
During the full-moon day in May, there’s a ritual bathing ceremony for the Phra That.
The exact year of construction of Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple is unknown but it was built in the reign of King Athittayarat, a descendant of Queen Chamathewi, around the year 1100. Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple has undergone much repair and renewal and in 1443 King Tilokarat, the King of Chiang Mai added 5 new pagodas in the Sri Lankan style.
It may surprise many people to know that Lamphun was founded 6 Centuries before Chiang Mai and about 1000 years before Bangkok became the Capital of Thailand. Indeed, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep was modelled on Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai in Lamphun.
The main Chedi is a nine tiered “Umbrella” made of gold and weighing almost 6500 grms. This Chedi is said to contain a hair of the Lord Buddha. In the courtyard is a large bronze Gong, believed to be the largest in the World.
Phrathat Hariphunchai Temple is of special importance to people born in the Year of the Rooster as it is the designated Temple for people born under that sign to make a pilgrimage to.
How to get there
The temple is located in the center of Lamphun town which takes around 45 minutes to reach by car from Chiang Mai. Most hotels and travel agency in Chiang Mai will be able to assist in booking a private car. Alternatively, charter a songthaew or catch a local bus from Chiang Mai to Lamphun, which takes around 1 hour and costs 20 – 30 THB per way.
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