Photo: Michel Huteau
1. Phra Keo
4. Bouddha - Park
5. Nam Phou
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, situated in the Mekong Valley. It is also Laos's largest city. The city hosted for the first time the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of SEA Games.
Buddha Park -
is a sculpture park located 25 km southeast from Vientiane, Laos in a meadow by the Mekong River. The name Xieng Khuan means Spirit City. The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.
The park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu (Venerable Grandfather) Bunleua Sulilat. Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat was a priest-shaman who integrated Hinduism and Buddhism and later fled from Laos to Thailand after the revolution in 1975. There, he built another sculpture park, Sala Keoku in Nong Khai.
The statues are made of cement and are ornate, and sometimes bizarre, in design. The statues appear to be centuries old, though they are not. There are numerous sculptures of Buddha and characters of Hindu lore. There are also sculptures of humans, gods, animals, and demons. One notable sculpture resembles a giant pumpkin. It has three stories representing three levels - Hell, Earth and Heaven. Visitors can enter through an opening which is a mouth of a 10 ft tall demon head and climb staircases from hell to heaven. Each story contains sculptures depicting the level. At the top, there is a vantage point where the entire park is visible. Another sculpture, an enormous 40 m long reclining Buddha, is also a park attraction.