Lamphun / Haripunchai

I went to Lamphun because the proprietor of the Lux Thai where we stayed in Chiang Mai told me to go there to see the early pure Thai stupa / Chedi style as the stupas in Chiang Mai / Zinn Mae are of mixed Myanmar Thai architecture. However, Pyone was tired and stayed behind in Chaing Mai while I went there by bus. First I took a tuk tuk to the bus stop which is near the Narawat Bridge. This place is beside the  Mae Nam Ping river with the Chiang Mai market on the opposite side of the road. Narawat is a familiar word and being in Chiang Mai, I realized that it is actually not a Myanmar word but a Pali one and also used in Thailand. Maybe the use of this word arose from Myanmar rule at Chiang Mai but there are also other Pali words.

the Narawat bridge over the Mae (river) Nam Ping at Chiang Mai

I was told that on the way to Lamphun, there are large trees and only in the Chiang Mai province. Once inside Lamphun province, they are not present anymore. The trees are much larger than I thought and lined both sides of the highway and have cloths around them at about 5 feet high. They look to be of the age before motorcars were invented and while walking and carts were the main mode of travel. This highway would have connected Chiang Mai and Hariphunchai. Lamphun is the modern city at the site of the ancient Mon city of Haripunchai.

large trees on the side of the road to Lamphun

Follow route 106 which takes you along a lovely country road lined with 200 year old giant gum trees that provided great shade.  As you approach to Saraphi district, the road is bordered with longan orchards. Somebody once said that Lamphun was famous for its beautiful women and tasty longans. This is still true.

Hariphunchai predates the Tai entry to present day Thailand from present day Yunnan. The exodus of the Tais from their homeland of Nanchao began when the Mongol empire, the Yuan dynasty became strong and expanded into the “southern sky / top of the world” region.

Hariphunchai moat at Lamphun

I saw water canals in Lamphun and althugh most of the remaining passengers got off, I continued in the bus till I got to the bus depot. Luckily, it is not far from the canals. There, I found tourist map signboard and learned that I had passed the chedi / stupa I intended to visit. I walked to it and after visiting it went ahead till I got to the canals. They actually are the Haripunchai or later moat maintained and crossed by the many bridges. I did not see any old city wall around there.

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (วัดพระธาตุหริภุญชัย) A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi whose present appearance was the result of the restoration work in 1443 by a king of Chiang Mai. Other architectural works include the ancient-style brick arch adorned with fine designs and the pair of sculptured lions at the door.

the monastery called Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai, which is the principal landmark of Lamphun province and dates back 958 years.

The 46-metres tall golden Chedi there is of the original Hariphunchai style and is said to contain relics of the Lord Buddha. A nine-tier umbrella made of pure gold surmounts this Chedi, which is set in the middle of the monastery.

I had a cold drink and a girl there can speak English. She told me where to go to take the bus back to Chiang Mai. However, her instructions were vague so I decided to go back to the bus depot the route I knew.

There, I saw signboards for tourists and decided to tour Lamphun before returning. I went around with a motorcycle taxi and reached several Wats / temples and the monument of Queen Jamadevi / Phranang Chammathewi the first ruler of Nakhon Hariphynchai.

old city wall, Lamphun. howver it is not of Hariphunchai era

 

Hariphunchai (or Haribhunjaya)(Pali: Haripunjaya) was a Mon kingdom in the north of present Thailand in the centuries before the Thais moved into the area. Its capital was at Lamphun, which at the time was also called Hariphunchai. In 1292 the city was besieged and captured by the Thai kingdom of Lanna.

Founding

According to the Camadevivamsa and Jinakalamali chronicles, the city was founded by a hermit named Suthep in 661 AD, and the Mon ruler of Lopburi sent his daughter Jamadevi to become its first queen. However, this date is now considered as too early, and the actual beginning is placed at around 750 AD[citation needed]. At that time, most of what is now central Thailand was under the rule of various Mon city states, known collectively as the Dvaravati kingdom. Queen Jamadevi gave birth to twins, the older succeeding her as the ruler of Lamphun, and the younger becoming ruler of neighboring Lampang.

Flourishing and downfall

The chronicles say that the Khmer unsuccessfully besieged Hariphunchai several times during the 11th century. It is not clear if the chronicles describe actual or legendary events, but the other Dvaravati Mon kingdoms did in fact fall to the Khmers at this time. The early 13th century was a golden time for Hariphunchai, as the chronicles talk only about religious activities or constructing buildings, not about wars. Nevertheless, Hariphunchai was besieged in 1292 by the Thai king Mengrai, who incorporated it into his Lannathai kingdom.

Lamphun

Lamphun is a neat city and as it is not so much heavily populated as is Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok, would be a nice place to live. I did not see any high rise buildings nor were there street buildings adjacent to each other. However, the roads are superb and the traffic is not heavy.

Today, Lamphun still retain its enchanting ambience of a small but old community. It is some 670 kilometers from Bangkok and only 26 kilometers from Chiang Mai. Located on the bank of the Kuang River, its attractions include ancient sites and relics as well as forests and mountains and delightful lakes. Lamphun is the most famous producer of longans

If you want to  get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, heading out of Chiang Mai for the small town of Lamphun.  This northern destination has abundance of atmosphere and history.

Follow route 106 which takes you along a lovely country road lined with 200 year old giant gum trees that provided great shade.  As you approach to Saraphi district, the road is bordered with longan orchards. Somebody once said that Lamphun was famous for its beautiful women and tasty longans. This is still true.

The town was founded in the 9th century (CE) by Queen Chama Thevi as the capital of the Haripunchai kingdom, the last Mon kingdom in the area which now forms Thailand.

Lamphun map

Situated 26 km south of Chiang Mai, this generally quiet town is said to be constructed in the shape of a conch shell, following the Khuang River on its east side and divided by moats at the remaining points of the compass.

Just 10 kilometres from Lamphun is Pa- Sang, a small village and on both sides of the main road are notice boards saying: “Wanted, longan at good prices”, in front of the dealer’s premises. The fruit is in season during July and August.  There are several species which are popular among consumers.

Today, 60 percent of the longans produced in Lamphun are exported to Europe and other countries in Asia.

Over two decades ago, the district of Ban Pa-Sang was a handicraft centre, famous for its hand-made cotton materials, mainly produced in Ban Nong Nguak village. Most of the shops were crowded with  tourists, both Thais and foreigners, because it was the main stopping point and the only access road to Chiang Mai.    Since the construction of Highway No.11 linking Chiang Mai with Lampang, Pa-Sang has been by-passed. It has now become quiet and sleepy.

Wat Phra Yuen (วัดพระยืน), an old temple from 11th century about 1 km east of the old town centre. The huge chedi with a large square base and four tall standing Buddha images dates from the beginning of 20th century.

Lamphun is host to one of the north’s most important wats (temples), Wat Phra That Haripunchai. The “Phra That” in the title indicates the presence of a Buddha relic, in this case one of His hairs, which was interred in a chedi in 897 and is probably the founding date of the Wat.

The Dvaravati style chedi of Wat Phra That Haripunchai

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (วัดพระธาตุหริภุญชัย) A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi whose present appearance was the result of the restoration work in 1443 by a king of Chiang Mai. Other architectural works include the ancient-style brick arch adorned with fine designs and the pair of sculptured lions at the door.

the monastery called Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai, which is the principal landmark of Lamphun province and dates back 958 years.

The 46-metres tall golden Chedi there is of the original Hariphunchai style and is said to contain relics of the Lord Buddha. A nine-tier umbrella made of pure gold surmounts this Chedi, which is set in the middle of the monastery.
 

 

Phra Nang Chamthewi Statue (อนุสาวรีย์พระนางจามเทวี) is located in the Nong Dok public park in town commemorating the first ruler of Hariphunchai.

 

Phra Nang Chamthewi Statue (อนุสาวรีย์พระนางจามเทวี) is located in the Nong Dok public park in town commemorating the first ruler of Hariphunchai.

Wat Chamthewi or Wat Ku Kut (วัดจามเทวี หรือ วัดกู่กุด), commonly referred to a Ku Kut (กู่กุด), built in the Lawo (Lopburi) style. The Chedi is a square structure similar to Buddhagaya in India. Ashes of the queen are enshrined within the Chedi.

Wat Chamthewi or Wat Ku Kut (founded c. 1150, present buildings 1218 onward)

Queen Chama Thevi is remembered in the Wat of her name, which is said to be the resting place of her ashes. Near the town’s main morning market in the southwest of the city is a statue of the Queen at which offerings are still made today by citizens.

Past  the town moat, just two kilometres away is Wat Chamthewee, situated on the Chiang Mai-Sanpatong Road. Commonly known as Wat Ku Kut, this temple was built in 1298 B.E. (755 A.D.)

The stupa is a square structure similar to the one at Buddhagaya in India.  Around the stupa are levels of arches holding a total of 60 Buddha statues. Queen Chamthewee was the first ruler of Lamphun and her ashes are enshrined within. She was the longest living ruler in the Lanna Kingdom’s history and was over 100 years old when she passed away.

The Haripunchai kingdom Chama Thevi founded eventually fell under the control of the Khmers of Angkor in modern day Cambodia, probably at the end of the 10th century. After the fall of Angkor to Thai forces, King Mengrai, founder of Chiang Mai finally seized Lamphun in 1281 and made it part of the Lanna Kingdom.

After Burmese expansion in the sixteenth century, Lamphun was also under Burmese rule for two centuries. In the eighteenth century, with the rise of Thonburi and Bangkok against Burmese rule, local leaders from Lampang agreed to be their allies. Lamphun was finally free from the Burmese and ruled by relative of Lampang’s leader, gaining vassal status from Bangkok. Eventually after the administrative reform of Bangkok government in late nineteenth century, Lamphun became a part, as a province, of Siam or late Kingdom of Thailand.[1]

The town is surrounded by lush countryside punctuated by rice fields and orchards of the popular fruit, longan, which is celebrated in a festival every August.

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