Our trip to Laos was long. We did nothing the first day except traveling and eating. That’s understandable, we were all exhausted from the trip. However, day two brought us to a couple of places, one of them being Pha That Luang. I’ll give you a brief rundown of it.
Pha That Luang (‘great golden stupa’) is one of the most important religious structures in Laos. It was built in the 3rd century CE to house the breastbone of Buddha (Siddhārtha Gautama), gifted to Laos by a Hindu Monks sent by Indian King Ashoka. The current structure surrounding the stupa was commissioned by King Setthathirat in 1566 after he moved the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom to Vientiane. The stupa was destroyed in 1827, along with much of the capital, by Siamese invaders. The stupa was rebuilt in the 20th century by the French.
Outside the structure is a statue of King Setthathirat, one of the greatest leaders in Lao History. He was also a prolific builder, erecting other monuments besides Pha That Luang. Interesting fact: inside the grounds, many Buddhist statues are missing their heads. I was told that looters often go for the head since it is the most convenient to transport while still retaining the statue’s main qualities.
Four buildings once stood at the four cardinal points of the stupa. Today, only two remain Wat That Luang Tai, to the south, and Wat That Luang Neua, to the north. Wat That Luang Tai has beautifully ornate walls inside the temple so it’s a definite must-see. There is also a reclining Buddha by the temple. Sadly, I was unable to capture the right footage 😢. A palace was built beside the Wat That Luang Neua; it acts as a Buddhist convention center. It also served as the residence of the supreme patriarch in Laos Buddhism.