Sri Than Ancient Community

aerial view of town and moat from 2021

Founded in 1789 (or 1838, depending on your perspective) Khon Kaen is anything but ancient. But long before the city began there was another significant settlement here. The Sri Than Ancient Community (เมืองโบราณศรีฐาน), named after the modern village that now occupies the same space, sits on a moat-ringed oval mound a bit west of the city center. It covers about twenty-five hectares and rises up to ten meters above the… Read More

Ku Ban Ton Khmer Ruin

abbot standing with bai sema

The meagre remains – mostly a broken pedestal and three laterite blocks – of Ku Ban Ton (กู่บ้านโต้น) are displayed in a small garden in front of the ubosot at Wat Si Pimon on the north side of the village that the Khmer ruin was named after. The actual site is out in the rice paddies a bit northwest of Wat Si Pimon, but the abbot told us there is… Read More

Ku Non Thaen Khmer Ruin

front view of Khmer ruin with Buddha in back

The little bit of Ku Non Thaen (กู่โนนแท่น) that remains sits under a big roof at the back of Batdibattam Don Thaen Temple (สำนักปฏิบัติธรรมดอนแท่น), also known as Samnak Song Ku Non Thaen (สำนักสงฆ์กู่โนนแท่น). All that’s left of this Khmer temple is a small (6x8m) laterite platform at least partially assembled in modern times. The Fine Arts Department has no solid clue about its age, only giving the broad range of… Read More

Khmer Artifacts in the Khon Kaen National Museum

many Khmer stone carvings on display

The Khon Kaen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ขอนแก่น), opened in 1972, has four small but interesting historical galleries with artefacts from around Upper Isan and is worth a look for anyone visiting Khon Kaen. Its most famous object, standing in the center of the Dvaravati wing, is a bai sema boundary stone of the Buddha’s wife, Princess Yasodhara (aka Bimpa Devi) cleaning the Buddha’s feet with her hair that was found… Read More

Muang Boran Dong Lakhon

urn under stupa at Muang Boran Dong Lakhon

Muang Boran Dong Lakhon (เมืองโบราณดงละคร) was an important Dvaravati town dating back to 6th or 7th century. Pottery and other artefacts (including bronze bells, Baphuon- to Bayon-style Buddha images, and gold leaf, which the Khmer used during ceremonies) uncovered during excavations show that around the middle of the 10th century the Khmer came. There are no remains of temples, kilns, or anything else they built, though the town probably remained… Read More

Khon Kaen’s Seven City Pillar Shrines

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 Kru Bramuan… Read More

The Legend of Nang Usa from Phu Phrabat

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