Sunday, 22 November 2009

Year of Monkey: Phra That Phanom Stupa, Nakhon Phanom

Phra That Phanom stupa, the religious heart of the Thais and Laotians along the Khong River, houses part of the Buddha’s relics (his chest bones), which his disciple, Phra Maha Kassapa Thera, kept on top of the Phu Kamphra hill.

Legend has it that the stupa was built jointly by five kings and that the decoration on the stupa was done by God Indra. The brick plates depicting ancient kings made by local artists can de dated back to the Dvaravati period (around 8th –10th Century AD). It is one of the oldest stupas in Northeast Thailand.

Phra That Phanom stupa had been restored and taken under royal patronage by successive Kings of the Lan Xang Kingdom. In 1680-1682, a monk, Phra Khru Pon Samet, brought 3,000 men from Vientiane, Laos, to restore and heighten the stupa to the form favored by the people of the Northeast. In 1940, the Government restored and heightened the stupa one more time. On 11 August 1975, the stupa collapsed due to heavy rainstorm, but it was once again restored to completion in 1979. There is a well inside the temple, which is one of the seventh wells around the country, whose water has been used during coronation ceremonies of King Rama VI, VII, VIII, and the present King. The annual Phra That Phanom stupa celebration is from the 10th night of the waxing moon until the 1st night of the waning moon of the 3rd lunar month.

Location -Chayangkun Road, Ban That Phanom, That Phanom district, Nakhon Phanom

Getting there
By Car -From Bangkok take highway No. 1 to Saraburi. Change to highway no. 2 at the 107th km. Go to Khon Kaen through Nakhon Ratchasima. Turn to highway no. 213 passing through Kalasin to Sakon Nakhon. Then, take highway no. 22 to Nakhon Phanom. The distance from Bangkok is about 760 km. Once in Nakhon Phanom, drive along highway no. 212 for another 50 km.

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