I came across a few more of these odd, isolated stupas on our travels around Chiang Mai so here are a few more images of lost chedis in addition to my last set. Several of this set we found in the grounds of government buildings, so while not immediately obvious to the passerby, it does mean that at least they are better maintained than those lying on wasteland.
Slightly overgrown but attractive, Suan Dok lies at the start of Suan Dok Road just off the moat road and we reckon it was probably formerly an extension of the nearby Wat Suan Dok, or at least a smaller temple annex of its large, important neighbour.
This rather neglected one is located on Changlor Road not far from Wualai and our queries as to its name were met with rather blank expressions: “Well it’s just an old chedi isn’t it!” Guess no-one had asked before. No other wats are in the immediate vicinity so we can only assume that this chedi is all that remains of some forgotten temple that would have lain just outside Chiang Mai Gate?
While the above stupa has been rather unceremoniously turned into a roundabout, it does mean it’s hard to miss and we certainly can’t classify this one as ‘lost’ geographically speaking — but we can’t help feeling its original purpose has been lost and the priests who consecrated the chedi back in earlier times must be turning in their graves. (Well they would if they hadn’t been cremated, though since important monks’ ashes were often enclosed in stupas then it may be that the 17th century — or whenever — abbot is actually turning in his stupa as Toyotas and tuk tuks turn around him.) It’s right outside the US embassy — you can just make out the flag on the right.
Here’s a nicely maintained example but then so it should be, lying as it does in the garden of the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre. There’s even some stucco elements left, but nice to see it’s not too manicured either and a few weeds are still sprouting out of the bricks.
A sign identifies this one as Chedi Wat Inthakeesadoeu Muang. It’s clearly part of the same former temple complex as the previous one, which lies on the opposite side of the road. In between the two is the below temple, which is now almost in the middle of Inthaworarot Road — its “grounds” consist of a concrete car park. The “cultural chedi” is situated on the right side of the road and you can just make out the above behind the main temple building so, though we’re not quite sure when that road was constructed, it’s an example of a temple complex that is in the process of being sacrificed right now in the name of Chiang Mai’s traffic flow.
Interestingly though, the Arts Department has seen fit to erect an architect’s plan of the chedi’s former glory.
On a more optimistic note, we’ll leave you with a photo of Chedi Wat Chongkhong, located in the grounds of the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. As you can see it’s under renovation so their customers don’t have to look at a grotty crumbing edifice as they debus outside the hotel lobby.
By Mark Ord.
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