Temple meets Jungle, Ta Prohm
Posts tagged Temple.
King Suryavaman II said he wanted a temple. What he got was Angkor Wat. It was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and originally built as the King’s temple and capital city.
Unfortunately the King croaked before he could see it finished and to make it worse the Chams (traditional Khmer enemies) later on sacked it. Down the line a new king came along and had it restored but built a new temple and state capital a few kilometers away.
In the later 13th century Angkor Wat moved from being Hindu to Theravada Buddhist which is what is practiced today.
The main door to the sim of Vat Xieng Thong
Definitely not the name of fancy undergarments but one of the most important Laos monasteries. King Setthathirath had it constructed in memory of King Chanthaphanith in 1560. Vat Xieng Thong is a monument to the spirit of religion, traditional art and royalty.
There are over twenty structures on the grounds surrounded by gardens, ornamental shrubs and trees. Until 1975 the vat was a royal temple where the Kings of Laos were crowned.
The rear exterior wall to the sim (main shrine) is decorated with glass mosaic depicting the tree of life. Inside, black walls carry gold stenciled images that share stories from the life of King Chanthaphanith.
Waiting inside a drum shelter, Luang Prabang
Along my travels I’ve visited a temple or two. None have looked like this. The temples in Luang Prabang are magnificent works of architecture with artistic detail that can’t help but tell you a story.
Wat Sensoukharam is a Buddhist temple built in 1718 with 100,000 stones from the Mekong river (hence its name).
It was restored in 1957 commemorating Buddha’s birth 2500 years earlier. The most distinctive feature is its maroon walls with gold stenciling.
On either side of the windows you can see apsaras or deities standing on mystical beasts.
After a night in Hanoi I decided to take a trip away from the city and visit the Perfume Pagoda. The journey getting there was what drew me in…Two hours by bus, an hour by boat and ten minutes in a gondola up a mountain. Adventurous, right?
On our way to the boat we stopped for a bathroom break which I learned is code for tourist trap. We then passed by countless rice fields and small towns. We even saw a new statue of Uncle Ho being celebrated.
Once on the narrow and uncovered boat we were led up the Yen Vi river by our female rower. For almost the entire hour we were alone on the river. It was so peaceful that I didn’t mind the heat. The sound the paddle made as it touched the water with each stroke was hypnotic.
After arriving we checked out a couple of buddhist temples built into the limestone mountains, ate lunch and then made our way to the gondola queue. Once we got there two employees laid like cats on the benches and were in no hurry to get up and work. We learned that in order to conserve energy they didn’t run the gondola often so we had to wait for other tour groups to join us in order for it to be more efficient.
Once at the top we took a walk towards the Huong Tich cave and immediately saw the Perfume Pagoda (temple). I imagined what it must look like when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit during the Huong Pagoda festival.
We were able to walk inside the cave and learn about the offerings people typically make and the different legends behind the pagoda.
Fifteen minutes later we were rushed down the mountain by foot. The gondola wasn’t running and were told several times that we had to stay on schedule. The boat ride back was even more peaceful than the one there. Light sun, a cool breeze and the subtle sounds that surrounded us. If it wasn’t for the big Pepsi billboard near the dock you might not know what decade it was.