Wat Chantabuli, known by local people as Wat Chan is one of the many less visited temples in the old part of Vientiane.
The Wat found near the Mekong river is an active temple with resident monks. The sim or congregation hall is guarded by a couple of three headed Naga snakes. Their bodies extend over the balustrades of the stairway leading to the entrance.
The building’s multi tiered roof is adorned with a 15 part Dok so faa and stylized Naga finials. Its front gable is decorated in gold on red background with depictions of the Buddha, floral motifs and the three headed elephant Erawan with a howdah on its back. Panels show the Buddha meditating under a Bodhi tree, the Buddha teaching a group of followers and a reclining Buddha.
Two massive pillars with capitals in the shape of a lotus flower support the porches roof. The doors of the large central and smaller flanking entrances are adorned with delicate wood carvings. The back gable is decorated with flower motifs, Naga snakes and a golden depiction of the Buddha surrounded by a group of followers.
The principal Buddha image housed in the Wat Chan’s sim is a large bronze image seated on a pedestal.
Other structures on the temple grounds
Next to the sim is a three storey drum tower. In front of it is a Buddha sheltered by the hoods of Mucalinda, the King of the Naga serpents. The Buddha in meditation position is seated on the wrapped up body of the seven headed snake. Other buildings on the grounds include two large multi purpose buildings, several stupas and an open Sala sheltering a broken ancient standing Buddha image.
A small statue of Phra Mae Thorani depicted as a young, attractive woman shows her wringing the waters out of her long hair. The Earth Goddess from Buddhist mythology drowns the armies of the demon Mara, who tries to stop the Buddha from meditating and reaching enlightenment.
How to get there: The temple is found on Quai Fa Ngum near the Mekong river in the center of Vientiane. The temple can be reached on foot from most of the downtown area. A fun way to get around is by bicycle; one can be rented at about 10,000 Kip per day. A tuk tuk ride from the downtown area to the temple will cost around 20,000 Kip.
The temple opens daily from 5 am until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Wat Chantabuli is an active temple. Please remove your shoes before entering a building and dress appropriately.
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