Walking Chiang Mai | Chang Puak and Sri – Poom Road area

So we are close to Songkran 2021. Considering that we are in the worst situation when it comes to newly reported cases of Covid since the pandemic started here in Chiang Mai, but we have the best air (summer storms yesterday), the feeling is indeed a bit mixed. There is a humble and low key atmosphere around town. With the clear blue skies, blooming Golden Showers and empty streets it is hard not to go for some photo shooting in downtown. Walking Chiang Mai. Especially focusing on the area close to Chang Puak and the moat.

Chiang Mai moat
Clear skies after the rain. Chiang Mai pre- Songkran 2021.

We have been told only to do digital water fights this year so I am looking forward to seeing some temples and experiencing the traditional aspects of Thai New Year without getting soaking wet.

No water splashing
No water-splashing and no alcohol.

Yesterday, I was sitting with my son in our favorite café, Into the Woods, the fairytalish coffeeshop was completely empty so no issues with social distance.

I just realised what a lovely corner of the city this is. The moat and this northern corner along Sri Poom Road easily deserves a few hours of your time. And it has been quite some time since I walked through these parts.

Chang Puak – The White Elephant Gate

So, starting from the old city wall, originally built 700 years ago(but restored in modern times) and the Northern Gate of the White Elephant. The Chang Puak gate was where royals entered to old town, the inner city.

Chang Puak gate
White Elephant Gate.

Enjoying flowering Ratchapreuk trees I took some time to check out two temples that I previously mostly just walked past.

Golden Showers in bloom.
National trees in bloom.

Wat Kuan Ka Ma – A man’s love of his horse

Stories told through the centuries by Lanna elders speaks of a piece of land owned by a horse merchant, or a royal soldier under the service of General Jaomun Damtuang. Or maybe he was both! Anyway he saw his favorite horse die. So he decided to commission a temple on his private land for this horse. It is claimed that temple goes back all the way to 1492. The row of horses is rather unique.

Opening hours from 07.00 to 17.00.

The horse temple Chiang Mai
Passing this temple on Sri Poom Road you will see a about 20 horses. And a pair of horses at each entrance.
Viharn in the horse temple. Walking Chiang Mai you will see many viharns.
East facing viharn with two tiered roof decorated with naga/snake and chofa/heavenly Garuda bird. Enter below Buddha’s eyebrows.

Just a bit further up the road you have a more spectacular temple.

Wat Raja Montean(Ratcha Montien) also called the Red Temple, or the temple of the Big Buddha

The present area is not very old, built in 1974 and renovated again after that. But it is claimed that there was a temple here during the reign of the first king of Lanna, Mengrai. He and his wife is supposed to have given large donations and support to this temple and the abbot here was an exceptionally wise and clever man with influence on Buddhism in Chiang Tung and Xipsong Panna.

Wat Raja Montean, a Big Buddha outside.
Nicely framed Big Buddha at Wat Raja Montean.

This temple is very ornate and striking from the outside. Very inviting for a photo stop. But walk up the stairs to the viharn and you will be rewarded with more beauty. When the temple is normally functioning they also provide monk-chats.

Look in to the mouth of a Naga.
Welcome, if you dare.
Yaksha , a spiritual guardian.
A yaksha nature spirit, a mythological guardian.
Gold coloured Sitting Buddha inside the temple.
White marble floor and red lacquered columns with gold crowns leading up to a Shan – Burmese style Buddha who is taking the earth as a witness that the devil can not tempt him.
When walking Chiang Mai. There are so many details you can see in the temples like here. Rama and Sita from the Ramakien or Ramayana.
Probably Rama and Sita from some episode of Ramakien/Ramayana.
Chao Burirats residence in Chiang Mai.
On the way back to the car we also passed the partly wood, partly cement structure of Chao Burirat residence. It was built during the years 1889-1892. The Chao Burirat nobility was nr three in the hierarchy of the highest-level royals in Chiang Mai from 1774 – 1932. The mansion is now the office of the Lanna, Architecture Faculty, Chiang Mai University

Eating around this area

If you get hungry in this area you have one of the best places for Khao Soi here. The typical Northern style curry, noodle soup. One recommendation is Khao Soi Khun Yai. If you fancy something more gourmet try Ban Landai that is is on the Michelin Guide list in Chiang Mai. Lastly, walking Chiang Mai can be very rewarding.

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