We happened to spend a sunset at Wat Chedi Luang. We’d just been next door at the teak temple Wat Phan Tao. This temple was really different which seems to be a thing in Chiang Mai, successive rulers built temples in their own style to assert their power. It makes for lots of varied styles which is interesting and they are all Buddhist of course.
The ruinous chedi isn’t visible from the street. Like a number of structures in Chaing Mai it has awesome exposed brickwork, such as the old city walls and the entrance to Wat Chaimongkhon. The light on the terracotta coloured form was one of Damian’s favourite things (he must have been missing TRI). Well that and the elephant buttresses.
Dating from 1441, it’s believed to be one of the tallest structures in ancient Chaing Mai. The famed Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha), now held in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew, once sat in the eastern niche here in 1475. Stories say the chedi was damaged by either a 16th-century earthquake or by the cannon fire of King Taksin in 1775 during the recapture of Chiang Mai from the Burmese.
In the early 1990s Unesco and the Japanese government financed an incomplete restoration of the chedi. The effect is somewhat controversial and easily spotted. Namely, four of the five elephants are cement restorations. Only one, on the far right, without ears and trunk, is the original brick and stucco.