Near the banks of the Mekong river in the village of That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom province lies one of the most highly revered temples of North East Thailand. The temple named Wat Phra That Phanom, with its beautiful chedi being the most recognizable landmark of the area, that is not much visited by foreign tourists.
The structure of the temple complex that immediately catches the eye is the 57 meters high Laotian style chedi, that can be seen from far away approaching the temple.
The chedi named That Phanom with its very elegant shape is painted in white and decorated with gold ornaments. The top of the chedi contains 110 kilos of gold. The base of the chedi is decorated with reliefs showing scenes from Brahman mythology.
The temple is of high importance to Buddhists because the chedi enshrines a highly revered relic, namely a breast bone of the Buddha. It is said that the temple was built on the spot where the breast bone was found.
Every year a festival is held on the temple grounds lasting a week when thousands of Thai and Lao Buddhists come to the temple to pay their respect to the temple and the relics of the Buddha.
History of the temple & the chedi
According to legend, the first temple structures were built here a few years after the death of the Buddha by five Kings of the Sri Gotupura Kingdom. The chedi is said to be built during the 10th century at a height of around eight meters. At the end of the 17th century the chedi was reconstructed and raised to about 47 meters.
The Fine Arts Department restored the chedi in 1941 and raised the chedi again to its current height of 57 meters. During very heavy rains in August 1975 the Wat Phra That Phanom temple complex was badly damaged.
The Wat was closed and the Buddha relic had to be moved to another location. The Fine Arts Department helped by considerable donations from Thai people completely rebuilt the chedi which took four years to complete. A gold spire of 16 kilos was put on top of the chedi and the Buddhist relics were once again enshrined.
There are several more structures on the temple complex, including an ubosot (main prayer room) and a number of Buddha statues.
How to get to the Wat Phra That Phanom
The Wat Phra That Phanom is located in the small village of That Phanom in the Southern part of Nakhon Phanom province, North East Thailand, about 70 kilometers South of the provincial capital Nakhon Phanom.
You can visit this temple and the Wat Phra That Renu Nakhon that has a very similar chedi, located about 20 kilometers North, in one day. For directions and the best way to get there, see Wat Phra That Renu Nakhon.
Admission & opening hours
The temple is open daily during daylight hours. Admission to the temple grounds is free.