The Buddha Park

January 30, 2012 Laos Write a Comment 10,935 Views

Impressions Of The Buddha Park In Vientiane, Laos.

The Buddha Park (also known as Sala Xieng Khuan) is a sculpture park located 25 km southeast of Vientiane in a meadow by the Mekong River.The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues and is around 10 acres large. We drove there by motorbike (~ 45 minutes), which was great because we could explore the region around Vientiane as well.

Anyway, the park was built by Bunleua Sulilat, who fled to Thailand in the 70s where he built another Buddha Park known as Sala Keoku. As you might notice, the word “Sala” is a present in both names: Sala Xieng Khoan (in Laos) & Sala Keoku (in Thailand). The word “Sala” means the place where you can meditate or recover. This is why the park is “used” by many monks for resting, reading or studying.

When walking through the park, you’ll come across some bizarre statues of humans, gods, animals, demons and an enormous sculpture of a sleeping Buddha. One notable sculpture in the park resembles a giant pumpkin. It consists of three stories representing hell, earth and heaven. Visitors can enter through an opening which is a mouth of a demon head (second photo below) and climb up a staircases (from hell to heaven) where you’ll have an amazing view of the park.

The park has something distinctly ancient looking about it. Giant Buddhas lounge as Vishnu looks on, and Shiva menaces both with eight arms full of weaponry.
The more than 200 statues, filled with cryptic symbols, concentrated in a small area give the Xieng Khuan park spot an aura of horror fantasy.
Xieng Khuan park was Sulilat’s first sculpture park and was built by the side of the Mekong River, about 25 kilometers from Vientiane. Said to have been built by himself and his students the park is an astounding display of outsider artistry.
Among these ferro-concrete sculptures are skeleton thin Buddhas, a giant pumpkin with with a demon head for an opening and three floors representing Heaven, Hell and Earth as well as a gigantic 40 meter long reclining Buddha.
In fact, the Xieng Khuan, or “Spirit City” park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat. Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat was a priest-shaman, myth-maker, mystic and sculpture artist with a large following in Laos and later in Thailand.
Sadly, the place is about to fall into ruins because of floods from the Mekong River and a general lack of conservation. If it is now already a place of surreal lore that looks of ancient ruins, it will surely transform into something even stranger when it actually becomes ruins.
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