Wat Chiang Man is the oldest wat or Buddhist temple in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The city itself was established in 1296 by the king Mangrai as the capital of his northern kingdom Lanna or Lan Na, and the temple was probably built around 1300. Mangrai is said to have lived in the temple in his old age, as do many Buddhists in their twighlight years.

The main temple building is beautiful, with an impressive carved teak frontpiece supported by two massive teak columns. It contains two ancient and revered Buddha images, one of which legend has it came from India or Ceylon 2500 years ago. (This is obviously incorrect, as Buddha images were not produced until about 2000 years ago.) The other is a seated crystal Buddha said to be about 1800 years old and to have been moved back and forth between Laos and Thailand for centuries before coming to rest permanently at this wat. Because this image is believed to bring rain, it is brought out and led through the city if there is a drought. Outside the temple on the grounds is an interesting chedi surrounded by life sized carved elephants (see http://www.planetware.com/photos/THA/THA279.HTM for a picture). A gorgeous old temple in the heart of the city, worth a visit if you find yourself in Chiang Mai.

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