Wat Aranyapaisan is a beautiful monastery in a large, well-kept compound in the village of Ban Sroi, Amphur Phana, Amnat Charoen Province. There were nine monks in residence when I visited in late May 2017.
Buddha images on hillsides and atop mountains are a feature of driving through the Thai countryside, and it is always a pleasure to catch a glimpse of one from the window of a train.
They are seen more and more frequently, it seems to me, in wat compounds and by the roadside. Here are a few I have seen and photographed recently.
The next one is at Wat Khuha Sawan, Khong Chiam, Ubon Ratchathani Province:
And these can be seen at Wat Don Kwan, Phana District, Amnat Charoen Province:
Wat Muang Sawat (or Wat Ban Muang Sawat) is situated in Tambon Phana, Phana District, Amnat Charoen Province. It has three gates and this one is probably the ‘main gate’ even if most people might enter through another one.
This gate has two features which make it attractive. There are no electrical or telephone wires on this side of the road; and there are 3-D ‘teaching’ pictures moulded onto the walls adjoning the gatway. These may be particularly appropriate because on the other side of the road is Ban Muang Sawat (Primary ) School.
The sequence of childhood, old age, sickness and death is illustrated:
And there are somewhat grim warnings of the evils of adultery, gambling, and drunkenness:
We can also see a monk teaching against theft, drunkenness and adultery:
And we are also shown positive images of ‘good’ behaviour:
Wat Phra Lao Thepnimit
Wat Muang Sawat
Wat Treerat Prachasan
Wat Nek Khammaram
Wat Don Kwan
Wat Po Chai Semaram is situated in Ban Sema about 20 km south of the capital of Kalasin Province. It is sited within the heart of an ancient city known as Muang Fadaet Songyang. Archeological evidence suggests that thgere was an urbanised community here in prehistoric times; there is plenty of visible evidence that the city was prospering in the Dvaravati period about a thousand years ago.
The wat compound is right in the heart of the village, as this map shows:
Wat Po Chai Semaram, KalasinThe wat serves as a depository for some impressive sandstone boundary makers, or sema. Some of them have bas reliefs illustrating the jataka stories of the Buddha’s life and previous lives. These are kept under cover in a special building. The blue rectangles had explanatory texts attached to them at one time. You can see one such text on the ground in front of the stone on the left. This display is undoubtedly valuable and of considerable interest but is more than somewhat neglected.
The wat also serves as a museum for artefacts of a secular nature. One exhibit I was pleased to see was this krok, or rice pounder, which used to be a ubiquitous feature of village homes in Isan.
This unusual sala serves as a place where some exhibits are kept as well as serving its more usual function as a space where monks and lay people come together.
You can see more images of this wat in the slideshow below.
You can find Wat Po Chai Semaram by leaving Kalasin on Route 214 towards Roi Et. After 13 km you reach the district town of Kamalasai. Turn right and travel along Route 2367 for 6 km until you reach the village of Ban Sema.
You can read more about Wat Po Chai Semaram on my other site, Life in Phana:
The temple museum at Kasemsima was a real find, though we didn’t find it ourselves. A Phana friend who lives and works in Trakan Phutphon (Ubon Ratchathani Province) took us there.
The temple-museum is located in the village of Kasemsima Muang Gow, in Tambon Kasem, Amphur Trakan Phutphon, Changwat Ubon Ratchanthani. From Trakan, drive 3 kms north-east on route 2050 towards Khemmarat, then fork left towards Kut Khao Pun. Drive through Ban Kasemsima, cross the small river and turn right into Ban Kasmsima Muang Gow.
The wat itself is very modest. The kutis are old and wooden like this group of three:
The ubosot is very old, faded, almost neglected in appearance. Yet it is also very unusual. Despite the name of the village, this ubosot has no sima or boundary marker-stones. When I mentioned this to the abbot he said they had ‘disappeared’ many years ago. I said that presumably the luk nimit were still in place, but he surprised me by saying that this was a Lao temple and the custom of burying luk nimit was Thai. The temple was founded in BE 2291 (1748) so it is old but not as old as Wat Phra Lao Thepnimit in Phana.
But it is the museum that people come to see and that is housed in a magnificent new purpose-built building.
Some of the exhibits in this excellent museum will appear in a slideshow in the next post.