Pak Ou - The Sacred Cave in the Limestone Cliff
by Blake Johnson Apr 29, 2017
Pak Ou is a popular destination for having a remarkable trip. It’s an ideal place for art carving lovers and those who want to have a unique look into Buddhism. It’s home to thousands of Buddha statues and can please you by the picturesque view of Mekong river as well as the beauty being outside the city limit.
History of Pak Ou
The name Pak Ou which means the Mouth of the Ou represents its unique location. The caves are situated at the confluence of Mekong river and Nam Ou river and far 25 km from the north Luang Prabang. Thus, a trip by boat is the best option to approach the caves. Laying in the side of limestone cliff above the water, Pak Ou caves have the long history as a worshipping place. At first, they used as a place to dedicate to god of nature. Later, they changed to become a sites for worshipping Buddhism and were annually visited by King of the Luang Prabang. In Laotian New Year, the villagers or pilgrims will cruise up the river, come to the caves and bathe the statues in hope of receiving merit in the coming year.
Pak Ou Cave - The Stop Ground for Retired Buddha Statues
Pal Ou caves consist of two other natural caves Tham Ting (the lower cave) and Tham Theung (the upper cave). When the boat approaches near the mountain, you can capture the image of the lower cave easily. Tham Ting which is available to see from the Mekong river lays in a cliff 300 metres above the water. Thus, you need to climb up the white stone staircase to come inside it.
This small cave enables you to contemplate more than 2500 Buddha statues and the altars used for praying. These statues are the retired ones or they are damaged in some points. Instead of tossing them, the local people put them in caves for many years with the respectful behavior. Some of the statues date from 18th and 19th century. Unlike other Buddhism site, variety of different sized Buddha statues in different pose are mixed position together, face to the river and fill the cave. That makes the cave seem not to be aesthetic, but makes it has it own unique features. This cave offers you the chance to see not only glistening Buddha statues, but the old ones which was cover by cobwebs and put into the cave’s crevices.
Going out of the lower cave, climbing up more steps on the beautiful stair, you can reach teak wood door of the Tham Theung cave.
Unlike the lower cave, this cave is not easy to capture the sunlight directly and it’s quiet dark. Therefore, flashlights are necessary for making a discovery inside the cave. It’s the shelter to other 1500 statues and maintained many drawing on the walls.
Except for contemplating the beauty of statue and the limestone cave, the views from the cave can satisfy you expectation.
On the way to the cave, Bang Xang Hai village which is famous as the village of whisky is a worth-stop destination.
It’s not the tour trap but it offers you the opportunity to observe the local life with the path being full of weavers’ looms, stunning fabric stalls, Buddha wat and sample their home-brewed drinks.
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