Discover The Most Ancient Temple In Laos – Wat Phou
Travelling to Lao, tourists cannot miss Wat Phou, one of the oldest religion destinations in this rich history country. Wat Phou or Vat Phou (meaning Mountain Temple) is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex more than 1000 years old and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2001 by UNESCO.
This temple complex located at the base of mount Phu Kao in Champasak Province and offers stunning views of the surrounding land and Mekong River. One thing that makes Wat Phou becomes mystical in the consciousness of local people is the unique structure of Wat Phou. Visitors will be amazed by the outstanding workmanship such as temple pillars, walls, lintels, pediments, shrine, library and palaces. Almost all buildings in the temple were built from the 11th to 13th century, but the most ancient structure in the site was claimed to be built in the 5th century under Khmer empire. Vat Phou is regarded as one of the most impressive and important archeological sites in Lao. The Wat Phou temple used to dedicate to Shiva, one of the most important gods in Hinduism. In the mid-13th century, when Buddhism replaced Hinduism in Lao, Wat Phou was converted into a Buddhist hermitage.
There is a mystical feeling when you walk through Wat Phou. Right at the entrance of the historical site is a museum, where preserves hundreds of precious exhibits of the pre-Angkor era. There are sandstone statues and sculptures of Hindu gods, especially is the 2-meter statue of Linga placed in the center of museum proves the vitality of Vat Phou during 15 centuries. Before the relic is two large lakes, in the middle is a stone walkway and stairway with linga pillars in two sides lead to the bottom level of the temple complex. This way is lined with plumeria trees; these beautiful, gentle and special trees add to the natural spiritual atmosphere of the place. In the bottom are two different palace structures built of monolithic sandstone. The front porch and the facade of two temples still carved the relics of Hindu deities with subtle, sharp motifs. To reach the temple sanctuary on the final terrace, tourists have to continue hiking up a lot of stone stairs. At the top of the hill is the main temple of Vat Phou, a charismatic building of blocks stone. The carvings on these stones are the true masterpiece of intricate craftsmanship with the sculpting of the god Shiva, Apsaras or Devatas. At the main temple on the highest terrace, tourists will have a great view over the plain and all the stone stairs. In the temple site, just only one lake left. Until now, the water of this lake is still used to bath statues in the rituals.
Every year in the third month of Lao lunar calendar (often in February), local people held an annual festival called Boun Wat Phou Champasak. These 3 days of festival always attract thousands of Lao’s people and visitors come to pray for the blessings throughout the year or just want to immerse in the animated atmosphere. During this occasion, many impressive ceremonies and fun activities are held, such as elephant racing, cock or buffalo fighting, live music and Lao’s traditional dancing. Over the millennia of history with many ups and downs of the time, Wat Phou is still a favorite destination for tourists.