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Wat Phra That Cho Hae
Located on a small hill of approximately 28 meters in height, Wat Phra That Cho Hae is a Royal temple which houses the octagonal Chiang Saen-style pagoda enshrining relics of Buddha, called Phra That Cho Hae. It is a 33-meter high, gold-plated pagoda standing on an 11-meter wide, square base with indented corners. Atop of the base are three tiers of octagonal base and seven tiers of lotus-shaped octagonal body in diminishing size. On top of those tiers are a tier of bell-shaped lotus and several small tiers of octagonal bell-shaped body with indented corners, topped with the ceremonial umbrella and decorated in Lanna style with steel fence surrounding the relics on four sides. The four entrance gates of the pagoda are in elaborate Lanna’s palace style architecture.
The annual Phra That Cho Hae festival has long been held. It was originally organized for 5 days and 5 nights, but later changed into 7 days and 7 nights. The first day of the festival is on the 9th day of the 6th month, for the North, (the 4th month) in Thai lunar calendar. Phrae Province’s annual Phra That Cho Hae festival includes various parades of every district of Phrae, traditional dance, the procession of Chao Luang elephant and the tributes, Kangsadan, Mark Peng, and Pheung trees and the procession to carry robes to cover the pagoda, featuring Lanna flags of 12 zodiacs along with parade of popped rice, flowers, and Mark, Phueng and Dok trees. There are also preaching and Maha Wetsandon Chadok sermon performed all day and night. Music, dance and various festivities are performed at night.
The significant attraction of the temple is Phra That Cho Hae, the Buddha’s relic for the year of tiger (Khal.) Those who were born in the year of tiger should offer satin clothes of three colors to the relic to gain power and protection against enemies. To pray to pay respect to the relics, start with Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa for three times and follows with a chant to worship the relic for 5 times. The power of chanting gives prayers the better lives. Phra That Cho Hae is a pagoda enshrining the relics of Buddha’s left elbow and hair, beautifully wrapped in fine satin cloth.
Interesting sights in the temple:
1. Luang Pho Cho Hae is the temple’s principal Buddha image in Lanna-Chiang Saen-Sukhothai style, situated in the Ubosot.
2. Phra Chao Thun Jai or Luang Pho Thun Jai is a gilded, cement statue of Buddha in meditating posture.
3. Phra Buddha Lokkanatbophit is a Buddha image in Pang Nak Prok (under the protection of the hood of the mythical serpent,) situated in the adapted Lanna style Wihan. Inside the hall, there are beautiful mural paintings painted in 1991.
4. Phra Chao Norn is a reclining Buddha image, highly revered by Phrae people. Before going up to pay respect to Phra That Cho Hae, people often come to pay respect to the reclining image first. It is a Buddha image of Burmese art, built on a full moon day of the 6th month, for the North, of Thai lunar calendar, in 2006.
5. Ancient pulpit, elaborately made and decorated with a mixture of Thai and Lanna art patterns
6. The 5th portion (from 7) of Kru Ba Srivichai’s relic
7. Four ancient staircases with Naga serpents on the balustrades and one staircase with Singha statue. These 5 staircases inside the temple are different in length and number of steps.
8. The statue of Chao Kumbhanda was built from the belief that a Naga on the east staircase of Phra That Cho Hae often escape to swim in Mae Sai creek in the village. Local people, therefore, built a statue of Kumbhanda, sitting on top of Naga’s tail to stop it from escaping.
9. A stone inscription in front of Phra Chao Thun Jai statue inside Cho Hae Arboretum telling a story during the construction of the east staircase
To get there, from Ban Thung intersection in downtown Muang District of Phrae, go straight onto Cho Hae Road, passing Phrae hospital, the airport, Lhao Village, Na Chak Village, Tae Village and Moong Village. Wat Phra That Cho Hae is located at the 9th kilometer of the route from Phrae city, in Cho Hae municipality area.