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Heritage in Laos
SI KHOTTABONG GREAT WALL
Along the road 13 S, from Vientiane to Thakhek, before arriving in Thakhek at km 8, on the right hand side, a great wall stretches. People say that it was built in Sikhottabong empire, in the 9th century. Some say it is 11 km long while the others say it's about 15 km long.
Its shape and structure is strange. There are three layers of large rocks that fill and join each other. Unfortunately, only a few parts of the walls are seen because the local inhabitants cleared the rocks out for the house yards preparation and for road alignment. Only some sections remain as the trail. The principal remaining parts are at the km 8 area.
According to the data collected from Khammouane tourist office, the great wall is located about 6 Km from thakhek. Some say it was built by the ancient people or by nature. It is a square and long rock. The tallest section is about 15 meters high, and 150 meters long while the rest is about 10 meters high.
In the past 40 years, the great wall has been covered by bushes and jungle. At the present time, its trail can be seen from Namdone river at km 12 along the road No.13 and some sections are in the area of Thakhek municipality. This great wall should be kept as a heritage of the nation. It is a good site for tourism to study about the historical and magical arts created by the ancient people.
NAGA ROCKET AND WAT PRABAT PHONESANE
Wat Phabat Phonesane is one of the most important temples and tourist sites in Bolikh- amxai province. It is situated km 82 from Vientiane on the left hand side of road N.13 south.
Wat Naganimid Phonesane was first built on the right hand side and 2 km from the natio- nal road to the Mekong river.
Wat Phabat Phonesane is the Lord of Buddha foot print teple and stupa. It is beautiful place to visit and worship.
Wat Naganimid was built of the top pf the hill and has 100 stairs and surrounded by the big trees which made the temple more attractive.
Wat Phabat Phonesane and Wat Naganimid are not the same temples.
There is an old saying which say that Wat Phabat Phonesane place the Lord Buddha sit for lunch, when he srrived from Somphoutavib to teach the Buddha's word. When he looked for a place to sit for lunch, there were no places for him, becuase everywhere were his former graveyards. Because of that, the king of the dragon named Soukahathinak collested the rocks and soils to form the hill for him to have lunch.
After lunch, before he said good bye, the dragons named Soukahathinak and Sangkala- nak requested him to print this foot print as the symbol of Buddhism in Kokchikviengngoua hill which was as far as the shout of an elephant from the place where he took lunch. The Lord Buddha printed his foot print on the rock as we have seen in Wat Phabat Phonesane.
The size of the foot print is 40 cm deep 1.20 cm wide and length 2.40 cm. the nails of the foot are the same length. The images of the wheel, the lotus and one hundred and eight types of animals marked in the central of the foot. It was his right leg and facing to the Mekong river. After the image of the Buddha foot was printed, the dragon arranged a religious ceremony then returned to their kingdom.
Since than, at the end of the Buddhist lent, the king of the Naga and his followers have organized rocket festivals to worship the print in an annual ceremony. That is because people see the man made rockets lights launched from the land and the river. It is called Bangfai PhaNhanak (The Naga rocket).
WAT LUANG OU NEUA
Wat ou Neua or "Wat Luang Ou Neua" compared to Wat ou Tay is also an ancient structure with close age, which had been built in the same century. Within an area composing of four villages; Ban Xieng Khon, Na Bon, Nong Ngay and Don Yaeng, the Ou Neua village is a village of the Lue ethnic groups. Ou Neua village has two temples, one at the north side of the village is called Wat Chai, this temple is not large and was built in 1927.
The other temple is situated near the Phonxay hill square from the road at the back of the village. this temple is called Wat Luang or "Wat Ou Neua", because it is larger than Wat Chai (opinion of the writer). All structures of Wat Luang are very beautiful, there is a double overlapping roof by the Lue artist, adornment in the shrine consist of technique and fine arts, it is where a big Buddha image and other important Buddha statues are enshrined. It is widely respected by the Lue people. At close quarters to temple there is a stone inscription written in Chinese. The writing is said to be concerned with the construction of the temple, but it has not been proven because the writing is unreadable.
Inside the temple, there is a history saying that: Sean Luang Phor Kham because the guardian of Muong Ou city in 801. Sathu Thamachivo because a Buddhist monk in 803, before becoming His Holiness Thamachivo. His Holiness Thamachivo victoriously defeated invaders with his sayings. Therefore, an area of land in BanNam Mum and Ban Kong was granted to H.H Thamachivo in to the year 806. The huge Buddha image was built in 1923, by the architecture of Chao Maha Tom.
From the information written in the pagoda, the guardian of Muong Ou city sighted the accomplishment of His Holiness Thamachivo and so upon agreement granted an area of land to build Wat luang Ou Neua in the year 806 ( The year 801, 803 and 806 is unknown if it is A.D. or B.E.? only to an understanding that it was built adjacent to Wat Ou Tay in the same century).
Near at hand Wat Luang or "Wat Ou Neua", is Pra That Phouxay Stupa, with its location on the top of the hill, with 400 stairs leading to the top. Our team was not able to reach this area because the night rolled in, only a view at the bottom was taken. Traveling the distance to Wat Ou Tay village we were unlucky and regretted not able to pay respect to Pra That Phouxay Stupa. However, both Wat in Ou Neua and Pra That Phonxay stupa, still remains a natural and cultural tour to study about the fin arts and architecture of the Lue ethnic groups.