Khmer Ruins

Ku Mithila Khmer Ruin

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shrine made form laterite of Ku Mithila Khmer ruin

The few laterite blocks from Ku Mithila (กู่มิถิลา) that remain, with the addition of some new laterite, have been used to construct a small modern shrine. At its core is an old (though after the Khmer era) Buddha statue in subduing Mara posture carved from laterite. Around it are laterite statues of Rahu, Brahma, Mae Thoranee, and one that can’t be identified, but could be Phra Malai. Although they’re not… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Sampan Ka Khmer Ruin

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Ku Sampan Ka Khmer ruin

The monks of Wat Khok Ku have transformed what little remains of the original Ku Sampan Ka (กู่สัมพันธ์ค่า) Khmer temple into a small sacred area. They dug a square-shaped pit into the ground, lined it with the few dozen remaining laterite blocks that had been lying around the grounds, and hung a blue PVC pipe for pouring water over Buddha images during Songkhran, the Thai New Year. It sits right… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Ban Daeng Khmer Ruin

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back of Ku Ban Daeng Khmer ruin

Ku Ban Daeng (กู่บ้านแดง) is a small Mahayana Buddhist temple that appears to be from the reign of Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219) in the early 13th century. The only structure remaining is the central sanctuary, which has three laterite towers on a single base. None of them have their tops any more, though the middle tower is still used as a shrine; the yoni and Buddha statue are both modern… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Sunthararam Khmer Ruin

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Back of large Buddha surrounded by laterite enclosure at Ku Sunthararam Khmer Ruin

The laterite enclosure around Ku Sunthararam (กู่สุนทราราม) is nearly complete, which isn’t often the case in Thailand, but that’s the only Khmer era structure visible here. Concrete fills in some gaps in the wall, but it has aged so much that it’s not immediately noticeable. In 1956 a 29m-tall Buddha statue was built over what remained of the toppled laterite tower(s) and there’s a big modern arched gate in typical… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Phanna Khmer Ruin

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east gopura of Ku Phanna Khmer ruin

Ku Phanna (กู่พันนา), about an hour northwest of Sakon Nakhon city, is the northernmost Khmer ruin; beating Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat by about 1/100th of a degree latitude . It’s one of the many arogayasala (hospital) temples built across the empire by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219) in the early 13th century. Everything was built with laterite and enough is still standing to make a visit enjoyable. The most… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Bueng Jiew Khmer Ruin

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thai buddhist monk standing next to sandstone pedestal of Ku Bueng Jiew Khmer ruin

All that remains visible of Ku Bueng Jiew (กู่บึงจิว) is a single carved sandstone pedestal with two holes in it. Locals believe this stone now covers a naga hole. The large Buddha that’s inside the sala in front of the naga hole was built over all the laterite blocks that remained from the Khmer temple. Its age is unknown. Locals call the site Prang Ku. Location – Wat Pa Ban Prang… Read More

Buddhism

The Buddha Nearing Death at Wat Yang Tuang Wararam

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close up of buddha vomiting on mural painting at wat yang tuang wararam

The Buddha died of dysentery after eating spoiled pork. Some people (seemingly mostly Westerners who are uncomfortable with the idea of the Buddha eating meat, even though this is discussed in the Pali Canon many times) have decided that the final meal of “soft pork” was actually a type of mushroom and he died from poisoning. Regardless of what the food was, the Buddha knew that is was bad and… Read More

History

Khon Kaen’s Seven City Pillar Shrines

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Fourth Khon Kaen city pillar shrine, at Ban Nontan

Khon Kaen city moved location several times during its first century of existence, and whenever there was a move, the leader built a new city pillar shrine. So, besides the large, modern main city pillar shrine in the city center, there are six other shrines in and around Mueang Khon Kaen that once served this duty. The years given here come from the book The History of Khon Kaen by… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prasat Ban Phluang Khmer Ruin

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South lintel at Ban Phluang Khmer ruin in Thailand.

Prasat Ban Phluang (ปราสาทบ้านพลวง) is not one of Thailand’s well-known Khmer ruins, but it’s a great place to visit for people interested in ancient art. It was built in in the second half of the 11th century in Baphuon-style during the reign of Udayadityavarman 2. It’s very small and simple, but the setting, with many trees around it, makes it beautiful and the carvings are excellent. There’s a single white… Read More

Culture

Mural Paintings of “Kalam” at Wat Nong Wang

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Buddhist temple mural painting of woman tying a mut mee silk pattern.

Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang (วัดหนองแวง) is Khon Kaen’s one must-see. Each of the nine floors has something on display. One of my favorite things there are the murals on the second floor which show kalam (คะลำ), an Isan word meaning “things people should not do.” Many of these social rules are about showing proper respect to those with higher status than you, but others cover… Read More

Folktales

The Legend of Nang Usa from Phu Phrabat

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Nang Usa's tower in Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani, Thailand.

Phu Phrabat Historical Park, spread out around the top of a small mountain range, was an important Dvaravati religious site from around 1000-1200 CE. It was deep wilderness, but as many as 100 monks resided here and they adapted the rocky landscape into shrines and dwellings. Many Buddhist rock carvings and bai sema sacred boundary stone markers from that period remain, as well as pre-Dvaravati cave paintings. But the natural… Read More

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