Discovering ancient Lamphun and the Hariphunchai Kingdom

Discovering ancient Lamphun and the Hariphunchai Kingdom
Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai

Lamphun was the capital of the Hariphunchai Kingdom and the northernmost city of the Mon Kingdom of the Dvaravati period, and in 1281 was brought into the new Lanna Kingdom by King Mengrai of which Chiang Mai was made the capital. In the late 19th century, Lamphun became part of Siam.

Lamphun is most often visited as a day trip from Chiang Mai although it certainly warrants an overnight stay. It’s a 40-minute drive south from Chiang Mai passing through the exotic Northern Thai countryside and, if one takes the old Highway 106 route, along what’s known as the Rubber Tree Road. Much as the name suggests, a stretch of the road is lined with lofty rubber trees along both sides and makes for a pleasant photo opp.

Discovering ancient Lamphun and the Hariphunchai Kingdom

Ancient Lamphun and Hariphunchai Tour

Once in Lamphun town, the provincial seat, the first place to visit for many is Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai, the province’s most famous temple. Its earliest origins date back to around 897 when the king of Hariphunchai is said to have had what is now the central stupa built to house a hair strand of the Buddha. Legend has it that the Buddha visited this area and in the temple compound’s southwestern corner there are footprint indentations said to be his.

While Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai’s central stupa is from the 9th century, the temple compound was built during the 11th century. There was restoration work carried out in the mid-15th century, and then in the 1930s, renovations were done under the Buddhist monk Khruba Sriwichai, a Lamphun native who in his lifetime was involved in the repair and construction of over 100 temples, roads and other projects.

Along with its two chedis, Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai – upon which Chiang Mai’s famous Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple was modelled – has a 19th century library, several Buddha images including one from the 15th century, and an enormous bronze gong said to be the largest in the…

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