Monday, July 2, 2012

Wat Thung Si Muang - Temples of Ubon Ratchathani

The three must-see temples in Ubon Ratchathani, if you were to believe most travel guides, are the bodhi-style Wat Nong Bua, the desolate Wat Pha Nanachat, and this - Wat Thung Si Muang, the city's "most central" temple because it's easily reached if you stay in the backpack district of Muang. A few of the reasons why this is so: (1) the temple combines styles from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma; (2) it houses the Tripitaka Library, aka Hor Trai, aka Scriptures Hall.

Wat Thung Si Muang is steeped in history. The temple was built during the reign of King Rama III, founded sometime in the 1820's by the Ecclesiastical chief officer of Ubon (hold your breath) - Phra Ariyawongsachan Yanawimon Ubon Sangkhapamok (Sui). Sui studied in Wat Saket and upon his return in Ubon, he took with him a replica of Buddha's footprint which is currently housed inside the temple's ubosot (ordination hall). This ubosot's exterior design was patterned after Ayutthayan style. The hallway is garnished with designs from the Rattanakosin era admixed with styles from Vientiane (Laos). All the walls are colorfully painted with murals depicting themes during King Rama II's reign.

The temple's most important feature is its Tripitaka Hall, a wooden library on stilts that rises on a pond full of lotus, located just beside the ubosot. In our next post, we shall separately feature the Tripitaka (Tipitaka) Library.

Admission is free. During my visit (which lasted for an hour), I didn't see any other tourists, local or foreign, which underlines the dearth of visitors in a beautiful city like Ubon Ratchathani.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Wat Thung Si Muang ubosot

Ubosot's interior. Now where is the replica of Buddha's footprint?

This is probably Phra Ariyawongsachan, the founder of the temple.

Murals on the interior walls of the ubosot depict scenes from King Rama II's reign.

Antelope-headed and bird like chofahs (decorations at the end of the temple gables).

Overlooking the huge wiharn and the wooden Tripitaka Library

Where are the semas (boundary stones, usually shaped like a leaf and in 8's)?

Tripitaka library and the large wiharn.

No comments: