The temples of Luang Prabang

Although there were more than 60 temples in Luang Prabang before the Black Flag attacks of 1887, many of which were destroyed following the shift that followed. Presently, travelers can find 34 wats which now are home to more than 1,000 monks and are protected by the city’s UNESCO status in this city. Indochina tours Laos

Wat Aham

Wat Aham – source: luongphabang.info

Young novices who have travelled to Luang Prabang from the countryside to receive the education that monks here are given, a luxury not available in their home village account for the majority of the monk population. Most of them are eager to have short conversations with visitors as a way to practice English, which they study as part of their curriculum. Increasingly, they are also studying Mandarin, Japanese as well as French and the other mother tongues of the travelers who come to Laos.

Beautiful temple in Luang Prabang

Beautiful temple in Luang Prabang – source: villa-maly.com

It is wise to observe a few rules to avoid causing offence when you visit a temple — this means getting into the walled complex. Besides dressing respectfully, both women and men should remove their shoes before going into the inner sanctum, cover from their shoulders to their knees, ask permission before photographing a monk up close and if you are a woman, you should not touch a monk. Laos travel tours

If you understand all the taboos, all you need to do next is to get a taste of the city which is full of temple offerings. Wandering around and finding your favorite is one of the highlights of Luang Prabang. You may even find yourself sit beneath a Bodhi tree and help the novices with their homework and be well prepared for any novice monks in every temple who always want to practice their English.

Wat luang khoun

Wat luang khoun – source: tourismlaos.org

Note that for visitors, many of the most popular temples now charge a 20,000 kip entrance fee. From 06:00 until nightfall, temples are generally open to tourists.

At the small Wat Aham, you can find many remnants of ancient spirit worshipping. Many centuries ago this temple owned a shrine for the guardian spirits of Luang Prabang that are now thought to live in a big Bodhi tree on the bases of the temple. Even today wooden masks that are used for the “Dance of the masks” during the New Year festivities are kept at the temple.

During New Year celebrations in Laos, a large number of monks of several of temples in Luang Prabang walk in procession to reach the Wat Mahathat temple where they can see a dance performed for Na No and Pu No, the guardian spirits of the city.

Wat Mahathat temple

Wat Mahathat temple – source: thousandwonders.net

An elaborate front façade and huge, multi tiered sweeping roofs almost extending to the ground are the main character of the style of the temples in Luang Prabang. These finials shaped like a Naga, the mythological serpent regarded to protect Buddhism are adorned on the tips of the roof. The “Dok so faa”, an ornamental roof element, usually including an amount of miniature pagodas topped by multi tiered parasols are typical for Laotian temples. Many Lao temples, as in neighboring Thailand, contain stenciling or murals on lacquer of the Jataka tales, the stories about the last lives of the Buddha.

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