About 50km from theSouth of Pakse capital city of champassac, then cross the Mekong River via ferry and 5 more kilometers in car, you could reach the second world cultural heritage in Laos (after Luang Phrabang) which was built during the Khmer dynasties from 5th century to 13th century.
This is a stone architectural momument. After this, Khmer people continued to bring labors, materials resources to build an Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, which is mighty and famous at present.
Wat Phou means Temples on the Mountains. This temple is located in Champassac in West South of Lapos. It is bordered by Cambodia and Thailand, one of the three fiefs that take over from Lang Xane kingdom, i.e Champassac kingdom. The world cultural herigtage Wat Phou’s area is 15,000 km2. It is the oldest archeological sight of Laos. About 670km to the South of Vientiane, surrounded this vestige is 4000 islands of different sizes in the Mekong river. The name of those islands is Siphandone (Siphan = 4.000, done = island). There are many relics of ancient civilization here with castles made from sandstone, Theravada Buddhist pagodas. People in Laos consider Mekong River a rich potential sea with nine mountains surround a old quarter.
Wat Phou is the centre of Champasak glory all over the world. UNESCO lists it in the world cultural heritage. Wat Phou is separated into three levels; it leans on the holy mountain that rises on the plain land. Two vestiges of the low land and the outer land has been destroyed by time and there’s only the main centre that has clear relics.
About 8km from Champasak town, visitors would take a 15 minutes on “tuk tuk” (a kind of taxi) to come to centre of Wat Phou. The main entrance line is decorated with pillars with the symbols of lingam rising up to human’s chess. Two sparkling temples are in rectangular shape and built from sand with sophisticated carving.
Though its function is exchanged to honor the Buddha since the late of 20th century, the sculptures and carvings still have Hinduism marks especially in the paddle’s figures of Vishnu and Shiva, as well as Kali – God of time and death of Hindu people. According to the scientists, 1/3 of this architecture has been built since 6th century in Chenla dynasty, and the rest was from 11th to 13th dynasty that was at the end of Angkor era.
According to the abrupt stone staircase, it’s hard to step on these steps because of the earthquakes had moved the distance of them to the height of nearly 60m, and that is the location of the most supernatural temple of Wat Phou temple system. In front of the temple, there are Khmer women selling the incense sticks and flowers for visitors to offer the Gods. Champak flower is plaited into small cup of banana leaves size, frankincense is plaited into the small bundle with about ten of sticks surrounded by champak flowers. Each of that bundle is 5,000 kip.
All of the temple is covered by a large layer of lingam from God Shiva and it is swimming in thousands of ice buckets from the water of the spring behind. Inside the temple, the grandiose paddles with sophisticated carving tells the legend of Krishnavatara: Krishna kill Kamsa.
According to Ms Patricia Jolese, the Italian expert in archeologist who is working on the restoring Wat Phou, the similar carving plates are also found in paddles of Prasat Meuang KHael in Nakhon Ratchasima prince and Prasat Phanom Rung in Buriam prince of Thailand. It proves the fact that there is connection among these three temples. However, the evidence of archeologist shows sthat Wat Phou also has some connections with Khao Phra Wihan region, which was born by Khmer King in 11th century A.D – Suryavarman I which is 130km to the East border of Thailand – Cambodia.
Like My Son heritage of Vietnam, Wat Phou is in danger of damages, therefore many organization and researchers of Italian and American universities have campagained for the donation for restoring and protecting them. Right in the entrance, there are some donation box which called by the protection board and management board of this vestige. Although the transportation is still hard, there are about 100,000 visitors come to Wat Phou.