Friday, July 6, 2012

Wat Pah Nana Chat: Temple in a Forest - Temples in Ubon Ratchathani

There is something dreamy about a temple in the middle of a forest, right? 

That's what exactly drew me into visiting this temple, located in Ban Bung Wai some 14 kilometers from downtown Ubon, via Warin Chamrap (through Highway 226). This monastery was established by the late Ajahn Chah in 1975 to train non-Thais in the monastic life. This monastery is the 19th branch of Wat Nong Pa Phong where foreign monks practice Vipassana meditation. Most of them speak fluent Thai and pray in Pali. This particular branch observe strict practices, thus monks here are considered quite honorable among Buddhists. According to their site: "The monastery aims at providing English-speaking people the opportunity to train and practice the ancient lifestyle that the Buddha taught his monks in the forests over 2500 years ago."

My travelogue here is read in a separate post and has details of the "difficult" way of getting there on local commuter transportation. Otherwise, it's a long way via a taxi (though it's supposedly only 14 to15 kilometers away from the city). That travelogue is in this link: for information and details.

It was mostly a solitary walk from the highway; this place is quite remote. Upon finding the gate, I saw notices that prohibits photography, among other things so I had to secretly take some photos - I got very few, actually because I felt guilty. Otherwise, I'd have none to share here. Fortunately, Wat Pah Nana Chat has a website where I was able to secure some photos of the monastery with "photo reuse" noted. Now here's what's interesting. Most of the photos posted in their website is from someone called "eye sky" (how's that for a coincidence?) and if I wasn't in some alternate world, I could swear that was me - so how come I didn't know I got these fabulous photos? :)

Please visit their website here: 

In line with this, we would like to acknowledge the aforementioned website for the "re-use" of some of their photos. Thank you very much. It is our aim to help disseminate information about such an amazing place in Ubon. 

Upon my arrival "into the woods", I saw the foreign monks - called "postulants in white robes" aka pahkows or anagarikas, sweeping the grounds, wearing white garments. They were scattered throughout the forest grounds. It was "sweeping time". I proceeded to the new Dhamma Hall, took my shoes off, then sat on the floor, my back against one of those cylindrical white posts, facing the shrine. At the center of the shrine was a Buddha statue called "Phra Buddha Karuna", glistening beautifully against glass panels, the backdrop of tall green trees dramatically framing the statue.

Realizing I wasn't happy with the few photos I got (no flash, hurried), I finally tried to ask permission to take photographs, but one friendly monk said it was regulations, but he informed me that I could visit their website and use their photos as long as there is due attribution or acknowledgment. So there. :)

There's not a lot of things you can do here other than meditate, and observe the few structures in this forest. There are posters nailed on trees with sayings from their founder Ajahn Chah. I must have sat there for 30 minutes before finally deciding to leave and head back to the city. This was one of my favorite moments in Ubon Ratchathani, particularly because it was hard to get there and get out of there. 

This is the Eye in the Sky!     

This photo courtesy of 

This photo courtesy of 

Notices prohibiting noise and the use of cameras.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

This photo courtesy of

Once you find this concrete fence, then the entrance gate is nearby.

A hill and a forest where the monastery is located in Ban Bung Wai.

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