Touring Religious Route of the Northeast

| March 11, 2016

On the vast Northeastern Plateau, one can trace respected Buddhist monks who strictly observe the Lord Buddha’s teachings in pursuit of the Four Noble Truths, both the living and practicing and those who passed away, leaving behind their great merits that people can always look up to in life, with memorabilia and monuments to pay homage to. These religious sites are concentrated in the areas of 4 provinces that are linked namely, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani, Nong Bua Lamphu and Nong Khai.
We shall start the tour in Sakon Nakhon. 647 kilometers from Bangkok. Travel first to Khan Kaen Province on Highways 1 and 2, followed by 209 toKalasin and over to 213 across Phu Phan Mountain Range to Sakon Nakhon, a trip of 8-9 hours. There are comfortable accommodations here such as M.J.Sakon Nakhon and Dusit Hotels.
Start the new day with a food offering to monks in their morning alms round at Wat Pa Sutthawat, a well-shaded forest monastery in the city. Take Sukkasem Road to the administrative center of the province, turn left and continue for about 250 meters to the temple. With the great fame of the late lord abbot, Man Bhuridatto, the temple is daily visited by devotees and pilgrims. The respected monk focused on mind concentration and meditation to overcome defilements. A museum has been put up, adorned by a bronze figure of the late abbot, with exhibits of his belongings and his life story. An urn in a glass cabinet shows the late abbot’s ashes which appear like crystals.
Also in the area, one finds the museum of Luang Pu Louis Chandasaro, an a chief disciple of the Venerable Man Bhuridatto. His Majesty the King personally designed the pagoda for the venerated monk, situated within the museum, where a life-size wax figure is put up, along with his belongings and relics.
In Phanna Nikhom District, about 39 kilometers from the province along Highway 22, there are numerous sites to pay respect to, starting with Wat Tham Kham in Ban Kham Pa, at kilometer 139 about 17 kilometers before reaching Phanna Nikhom District. Aside way to the left leads about 10 kilometers to the intersection to Phu Phek about 4 kilometers away. Phra That Phu Phek, a pagoda of holy relics in sandstone on laterite base dating back to the 10th century A.D. is situated on the hill, with 491 steps leading to the shrine.

Phra Sutham Chedi, Wat Aranyabanphot Nong Khai Thailand

Traveling further on the same route for about 7 kilometers, take the left turn at the crossing and continue for about 13 kilometers to Wat Tham Kham, called Phu Tham Kham by the people. It was the meditation site of another highly revered abbot, the Venerable Fan Acharo who saw the place in his dream, as a cave with a large tamarind tree growing out of the open chamber. He settled down here up to the year 1964 and returned to Wat Pa Udom Somphon when he was taken ill. A large temple hall was later put up, housing a sculpture of the respected monk. On the trail up the hill, one finds an elaborate palace-topped shrine 37 meters in height, on a square base 37-meters a side. The shrine houses Phra Bang, a respected Buddha image, and the belongings of the Venerable Thet Thetrangsi, with his bronze figure and ashes put up for homage paying. The respected monk also made a pilgrimage here to meditate.

The road turns back in around to the same route at kilometer126. Four kilometers before reaching Phanna Nikhom District, turn right into the community up to the intersection. Take the right turn and continue for about 2 kilometers to Wat Pa Udom Somphon, the site of the museum of the Venerable Fan Acharo, as a pagoda on round lotus bud triple base, decorated with haul-relief clay patterns depicting the life story of the respected monk.
Passing Phanna Nikhom District continue on Highway 22 towards Udon Thani Province for 45 kilometers and take a turn at Sawang Daen Din Distrit to Song Dao District 19 kilometers away. A significant site here is Wat Tham Phuang on the top of Phu Pha Lek within Phu Pha Lek National Park, about 28 kilometers from Song Dao District. It was the meditation site of the Venerable Wan Uttamo. Model sites of pilgrimages in Nepal and India were set up in the temple, along with the museum of the revered monk. as a two-story building with a four-sided roof, decorated with marble, housing paintings and sculpture of the revered monk, as well as his belongings. From the top of Phu Pha Lek, a panoramic view of the whole area can be obtained, especially fine views at sunset.
From Sawang Daen Din District of Sakon Nakhon to Udon Thani, on the same Highway 22, the distance of only 75 kilometers. Here you can stop and pay respect to a living monk, the famous Luang Ta Maha Bua Yanasampanno of Wat Pa Ban Tat, at Ban Tat Sub-District in Muang District, only 15 kilometers from the city. Use the Udon-Khon Kaen route, Highway 2 for about 6 kilometers to Ban Dong Kheng and take a U-turn. Follow the left turn for 19 kilometers more to the forest monastery rich in wildlife. There is only one wooden assembly hall with a presiding buddha. The senior monk, although advanced in age and battling cancer, has been resolute in practicing Dhamma and preaching. He also makes a morning alms-round everyday in the monastery area.

From Udon Thani, head towards Nong Bua Lamphu Province, once a district of Udon Thani. Here one finds Wat Tham Klang Phen of the Venerable Khao Analyo, another revered monk who focused on mind purification and concentration. His sculpture is located in front on the roadside, along with the temple drum. Inside the temple, one finds the museum, the old residence of the monk, a major pagoda and a palace topped shrine dedicated to the revered monk. Also, there is a cave temple with fine sandstone Buddha, named Phra Phuttha Bunthon Nimit. Use Highway 210 from Udon Thani and turn left at about 13 kilometers before reaching Nong Bua Lamphu Province, continue for about 2 kilometers to the temple.
In Nang Khai Province, meanwhile, there exist several sites related to revered monks, especially in Si Chiang Mai District, namely Luang Pu Rian of Wat Aranyabanphot, and Luang Pu Thet Thetrangsi of Wat Hin Mak Peng, on Highway 211 at 62 and 77 kilometers respectively. Luang Pu Rian passed away not long ago. His remains were put up for people to pay homage to. As for Luang Pu Thet, there are his wax figure, a pagoda housing his belongings and a shrine. The temple is located on the bank of the Mekong, with fine views of the river and the scenes on the Lao side. And finally, you can go further to Wat Phu Thok or Wat Chetlyakhiri Wihan of the Venerable Chuan Kulchettho on Phu Thok Noi in Siwilai District. Use Highways 212 and 222, an entire distance of 193 kilometers. An amazing feature here is the steps around the hills in seven rings, built by the revered monk since 1969 and completed in 5 years. The steps are compared to the path of Dhamma that takes the knowledgeable towards a complete release through perseverance.
The route only represents a part of the religious path, with several more revered monks in the Northeast and other parts of the country. The inner peace and serenity would bring you back again and again to this path.

Sakon Nakhon – Nong Khai – Udon Thani Map Thailand

Category: Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon, Uthai Thani