THE ROSE OF THE NORTH
Lanna, land of a million rice fields, is the name by which the area of Chiang Mai and the North have been known for centuries. Bordered by the Mekong River and the mountains of Burma, and walled off by jungles from the central plains, Lanna - and the city of Chiang Mai - lived in remote splendour until this century.
The early power bases were along the Mekong River. In the mid-13th century, King Mengrai marched south to create an empire in the Kok River Valley, establishing first the city of Chiang Rai, in 1296. After capturing Haripunchai (now Lamphun) and securing joint leadership of Phayao, he sought a more central headquarters and looked for one in the Ping River Valley.
Here, Mengrai constructed a fortress and a temple, Chedi Luang. But, as they were unsuitable, he moved further north to establish Chiang Mai (New City) in 1296.
Because the Ping River frequently overflowed its banks, Mengrai built the royal city of Chiang Mai on high ground to the west, surrounding it with a brick and earth wall 1 mile on each side and surrounded by a defensive moat. A smaller wall once embraced a residential section.
Parts of the Chiang Mai walls are still intact today, and the area within is called 'the old city'
The flowering of Lanna culture dates from the reign of warrior King Tilokaraja. So influential was he that the 8th world Buddhist Council was held in Chiang Mai in 1455.
Less than a century later, however, the kingdom and Chiang Mai were embroiled in many disputes, a situation the Burmese were quick to exploit. After repeated battles, Chiang Mai fell to King Bayinnaung of Pegu, in 1558 and was ruled by the Burmese for the next two centuries.
While Burma spared Chiang Mai, the destruction that it visited upon Ayutthaya in 1767 was devastating. The Burmese conscripted Chiang Mai's young men and appropriated supplies for its war against Laos. So severe did the hardships become, that Chiang Mai was depopulated.
Chiang Mai remained empty for 20 years until Prince Kawila ('the hero of Chiang Mai') triumphed over the Burmese in 1799 and established his headquarters in the city. For most of the 19th century, Chiang Mai was ignored by Burma.
When the European colonial power began coveting the region, Bangkok's rulers realised their sovereignty over the area of Chiang Mai was in danger. In 1877, a Thai Viceroy took up residence in Chiang Mai and, untill 1939, ruled through a Chiang Mai Prince.
Chiang Mai acquired new importance with the dawn of the 20th century. A railway, begun in 1898, was pushed north through thick jungles and mountains, the last rail being laid in 1921.
But, while cities to the south began to grow as a result of investment by US government, Chiang Mai remained stable. It is only in the last 15 years that Chiang Mai started experiencing rapid growth.
So far, Chiang Mai has happily managed to avoid beeing changed too greatly by the outside world, and has retained its charm and centuries-old culture. With careful development, the attractions of Chiang Mai have been preserved. Today more people that ever enjoy the comfort and charm of Chiang Mai.
Situated between north latitude 17-21 and east longitude 98-99, the province of Chiang Mai is found in the upper area of Thailand's northern region. The distance from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is 750 kilometres (468.75 miles). Chiang Mai valley is 310 meters (1,027 feet) above sea level, and its land covers 20,107 square kilometres. The widest point of the province of Chiang Mai measures 136 kilometres (85 miles), and the longest 320 kilometres (200 miles).
To the north, a 227 kilometres (141.82 miles) stretch of mountains divides Chiang Mai northern districts of Fang and Mae Ai from Burma Chiang Tung (Shan) state. In certain areas, the Kok River also acts as a border between Chiang Mai and Burma. On the east, Chiang Mai is bordered by the Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lamphun provinces. The Mae Tuen River, ream Mountain and Luang Mountain separate Chiang Mai South from the province of Tak. Some portions of Chiang Mai South also border the Lamphun province. To the west, Chiang Mai is bordered by Mae Hong Son Province.
Chiang Mai popularity stems in part from its pleasant climate. Temperatures from mid-November to January average between 13C and 28C (56F and 83F) in Chiang Mai; the hills are even colder.
Temperatures in Chiang Mai begin rising in February and in the hot season (March-May) range between 17C and 36C (63F and 97F). In the rainy season (June-mid November), the highs can drop but the lows not at all.
There is no considerable variation between day and night-times temperatures in Chiang Mai.
The monsoon in Chiang Mai begins in May and ends in October, earlier than in Central Thailand.
The rain generally falls sporadically - except during August and September when the streets of Chiang Mai can sometimes flood.
TAT Government Agencies and Usefull Addresses
Tel (66 - 53) ...
Academic Institutes in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai University Huey Kaew Rd. Tel. 221 699
Club Associations in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Guide Association 334 Nimmanhemin Rd. Tel. 212 942
Golf Clubs in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai-Lamphun Golf Club Sankampaeng Rd. Tel. 248 321-2
Government Agencies in Chiang Mai
Hospitals in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Ram Hospital 8/4 Boonrueng Rit Rd. Tel. 224851
Chiang Mai Maharaj Hospital Suthep Rd. Tel. 221122
Police Stations in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Main Police Station Ratchadamnoen Rd. Tel. 221 040
Transport Stations in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Bus Station 1 Chotana Rd. Tel. 211 584
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