Top 6 Must-see Temples in Laos - A Culture and Religion Exploration
by Blake Johnson Aug 02, 2017
Do not hesitate to step into the Buddhist world in Laos if you really interested in this beautiful country. The large systems of impressive temples, stupas, and monasteries can offer you the best experiences of examining about Lao culture. The following article lists some outstanding examples for helping you enrich your understanding about Lao temples.
The important role of temples in Laos
From the early time, Laos people believed in ghost and really respected to Buddha. Thus, temples were erected in many areas over the country to worship Buddhism. To Laotian, temples are centers of respect and magic. They are decorated more beautiful than houses and become the best architectures which are received a lot of attention from villagers. Besides known as the places for offering, these temples were also known as the center of donation in the past. Since going along with the history of the country, many temples including the old ones and the restored ones really reserve an important part of Laos religion and culture.
Outstanding temples in Laos
1. Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is at the top of the list. Located in Vientiane, Pha That Luang or the Great Stupa is the most significant sacred monument in Laos. It can be seen as one of the national symbols and its image is embodied on Laos’ official seal.
The original Pha That Luang is believed to be built in the third century for enshrining the relic of Buddha. The current one was built in the 16th century, but soon was destroyed and abandoned due to the war with Siamese. It was not until Laos was under the rule of France that Pha That Luang was rebuilt in its original design.This worship center looks like a fortress and is erected with three levels in which each level reflects each stage of Buddhist enlightenment. Moreover, walking along the cloisters, you can contemplate plenty of Buddha images, tiny windows, statues of Naga snakes guarded on the stairs and statues of King Jayavarman VII, who created the big change in Laotian religion.
2. Wat Xieng Thong
Built in Luang Phrabang style, Wat Xieng Thong is an example of outstanding beauty in Laos. Under the rule of King Setthathirath, the temple was first built in 1560. However, because of time and war, the temple was damaged much and remodeled in the 1960s.
The magnificent features of the original form are still reserved, for example, the sweeping double-tiered roof and the colorful decorations inside and outside the temple. Except for the gold lacquers restored and added to the wall and the entrance, the statue of Buddha and the mythical statues inside the temple, the tree of life mosaic set on the western exterior wall is one of the most impressive points of the temple.
3. Vat Phou temple
Unlike other temples, Vat Phu is not a temple worshipping Buddha. It was built in Khmer architecture and dedicated to Hinduism. The reputation of the temple located at the foot of a hill comes from its historical, religious values and the stunning structure. This religious complex is believed to be built earlier than Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It consists of the ancient buildings with ancient sculptures, decoration patterns, stone statues and the foot print of Buddha on the big stone.
4. Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Vientiane - the capital of Laos. Built in 1820 and restored in the 1930s, the temple still remains its impressive original form. This five-tiered roof temple attracts many visitors by its long history and the beautiful ornament. There’s no doubt that travelers can have chances to contemplate the ancient architecture with over 10,000 images of Buddha, Nagas, seated Buddha statues and charming decoration patterns.
5. Wat Ho Pra Keo
Another worthwhile visiting temple is Ho Phra Keo which is also situated in Vientiane. The temple was first built by King Setthathirat as the place for dedicating to the royal family and Emerald Buddha which is set in a temple in Bangkok from 1778 to this day. Ho Phra Keo first impresses visitors by the green and beautiful garden surrounding it and the style of a traditional temple. Then, the Naga snakes set on two sides of the stair ways, the gallery of bronze Buddha statues, stunning wood carvings and Buddhist manuscripts can definitely make you fall in love with this temple.
6. Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
If you want to see more details of decorating patterns in a temple, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is a good option. The five-tiered-roof temple is located in Luang Prabang. It is really outstanding with the golden reliefs depicting the life of villagers, Buddhist scenes, festival and dancing women. Moreover, the black and red lacquer set on the wall and the ceiling make the temple more colorful and attractive.
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