Phra That Phanom is a Laotian style 57-meter-high spire, the chedi, seated inside a large temple formally called Wat Phra That Phanom Woramahawiharn which is near the banks of the Mekong river in the village of That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom province in the northeast Thailand. The chedi is the most recognizable landmark of the area without much visited by foreign tourists.
With its heights, the chedi can be seen from far away in these area. Painted in white and decorated with gold ornaments, the cehdi is in a very elegant shape. In the chedi base, it decorated with reliefs depicting Brahman mythology. It contains 110 kilos of gold in the top of the chedi.
The temple is very importance to Theravada Buddhist structure in this area, because the legend says, the temple enshrines a highly revered relic of Buddha: The Buddha's breast bone and it is said originally the temple was found on the spot where the breast bone was found.
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History of the Chedi & the temple
The legend says the initial temple were constructed here by the Sri Gotupura Kingdom a few years after the Buddha's death. The chedi is said to be originally built at a height of 8 meters during 10th century. According to the archeologists, the original chedi was built between 7-9th centuries but it experienced many times of renovation since then. In the year of 1941, the Fine Arts Department resorted the chedi and raised it to the current height of 57 meters. In August 1975, very heavy rain and storms badly damaged the temple complex and the chedi was collapsed. The temple was closed and relic of the Buddha had to be moved to another place. The public donations and the support from Thai government allowed the necessary reconstruction finished in 1979. A gold spire was put on the top of the chedi and the relics of the Buddha were enshrined once again.
Every year a 10-day festival called the Phra That Phanom Fair, is held here on the temple grounds during the third lunar month, usually in February. The fair draws thousands of Thai and Lao Buddhists come to the temple to worship and pay respect to the relics of the Buddha.
Wat Phra That Phanom is a popular and considered auspicious pilgrimage destination for all Thai Buddhists and it is said there are particular auspicious for those born in the year of Monkey and for visitors who was born on a Sunday is also regarded as very lucky. Those who made seven visits to Wat Phra That Phanom are said to become 'children of the chedi' and prosperity will follow.
The temple has a long history of relationship with Thai royal family. Not far from the chedi, on the grounds of the temple, there are seven ponds. Water from one of the ponds is regarded to be holy water and had been used in King Rama VI's coronation ceremonies. In 1942, Wat Phra That Phanom was formally honoured the title of royal first class temple.
Except the stedi, there are some more structures on the temple complex, including an ordination hall and some Buddha images.
How to go to the temple
Wat Phra That Phanom is situated 55km south of Nakhon Phanom town on Highway 212. Public bus runs frequently daily from the bus terminal in the center of the Nakhon Phanom town with return journeys from the market area very near to the temple.
The temple is open daily during daylight hours.
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