Wat That Luang – A Temple With Beautiful Murals In Vientiane

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Embark on a cultural journey with laos tours to Wat That Luang, an exquisite temple nestled in the heart of Vientiane. Renowned for its stunning murals depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology and Laotian history, this sacred site offers visitors a glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of Laos. Located amidst lush gardens and serene surroundings, Wat That Luang provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling city streets.

The History of Wat That Luang temple

Wat That Luang, also known as Pha That Luang, is one of the most important and revered temples in Laos, located in the capital city of Vientiane. Its history dates back to ancient times, with origins shrouded in legend and myth.

The temple is believed to have been originally built in the 3rd century by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who spread Buddhism throughout his empire. However, the temple as it stands today is largely attributed to the Khmer King Jayavarman VII, who ruled over the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. King Jayavarman VII constructed many temples and monuments across Southeast Asia, including Wat That Luang, as part of his efforts to promote Buddhism and assert Khmer dominance in the region.

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Over the centuries, Wat That Luang underwent several renovations and expansions, with major restoration work undertaken during the reign of King Setthathirat in the 16th century. It was during this period that the temple attained its iconic form, characterized by its towering central stupa, which is believed to house a relic of the Buddha.

Throughout its history, Wat That Luang has played a central role in Laotian religious and cultural life. It is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of national identity and pride. The temple has been the site of important religious ceremonies, royal rituals, and cultural celebrations, attracting pilgrims and visitors from across Laos and beyond.

In addition to its religious significance, Wat That Luang is also renowned for its stunning architecture and intricate design. The central stupa, with its golden exterior and intricate carvings, stands as a testament to the craftsmanship and artistic prowess of the Laotian people.

Today, Wat That Luang remains a cherished landmark and a symbol of spiritual devotion in Laos, drawing tourists and pilgrims alike to marvel at its beauty and learn about its rich history.

The Outstanding Architecture of Wat That Luang temple

The architecture of Wat That Luang temple is a masterpiece of Laotian Buddhist design, characterized by its distinctive and imposing central stupa, surrounded by ornate structures and symbolic elements.

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Central Stupa: 

At the heart of Wat That Luang stands the towering central stupa, which is the focal point of the temple complex. Rising to a height of over 44 meters (144 feet), the stupa is adorned with layers of gold leaf, giving it a radiant and majestic appearance. Its elegant spire, crowned with a gilded finial known as a “chathra,” symbolizes the spiritual ascent towards enlightenment.

  • Outer Courtyard: 

Surrounding the central stupa is a spacious outer courtyard enclosed by a low wall. This area is often bustling with activity, with devotees offering prayers, lighting incense, and making offerings at various shrines and altars scattered throughout the courtyard.

  • Secondary Stupas and Shrines: 

Within the outer courtyard, smaller stupas and shrines are interspersed among manicured gardens and walkways. These secondary structures serve as repositories for relics and sacred objects, each adorned with intricate carvings, colorful mosaics, and decorative motifs.

  • Sim (Ordination Hall): 

Adjacent to the central stupa is the Sim, or ordination hall, where Buddhist ceremonies and rituals take place. The Sim is typically adorned with elaborate wooden carvings, gilded decorations, and colorful murals depicting scenes from Buddhist scripture and Laotian folklore.

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  • Nagas and Guardians: 

Flanking the entrances and pathways of Wat That Luang are statues of mythical creatures, such as nagas (serpent-like deities) and guardian lions, which serve as protectors of the temple and its sacred precincts.

  • Lush Grounds: 

Surrounding the temple complex are lush gardens and green spaces, providing a serene and tranquil environment for contemplation and meditation. Tall palm trees and flowering plants add to the picturesque setting, creating a peaceful oasis in the heart of bustling Vientiane.

Experience That Luang festival

The That Luang Festival, also known as Boun That Luang, is one of the most important religious and cultural celebrations in Laos, centered around the iconic That Luang temple in the capital city of Vientiane. 

When is That Luang festival held?

This annual festival typically takes place during the full moon of the twelfth lunar month in the Lao calendar, which usually falls in November.

The festival is a vibrant and colorful affair, attracting thousands of pilgrims and visitors from across Laos and beyond. It is a time of devout religious observance, cultural festivities, and community gatherings.

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Activities in That Luang festival

During the That Luang Festival, the temple grounds of That Luang become a hive of activity, with devotees making offerings of flowers, candles, and incense at the stupa, and participating in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies led by monks.

One of the highlights of the festival is the grand procession, known as the “wien tien,” which winds its way through the streets of Vientiane, starting and ending at That Luang temple. The procession features elaborately decorated floats, colorful costumes, traditional music and dance performances, and representations of Buddhist symbols and deities.

Another significant aspect of the That Luang Festival is the traditional games and cultural performances that take place on the temple grounds and in nearby parks. Visitors can enjoy folk music and dance performances, participate in traditional games and competitions, and sample delicious Lao cuisine and snacks sold by local vendors.

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Wat That Luang Practical Information for tourists

Opening hour

Wat That Luang opens daily from: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 13:00 pm – 16:00 pm.

Admission fee

5,000 kip to the Golden Stupa and free for surrounding monuments.

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Step inside to marvel at the intricate details of the murals, soak in the spiritual ambiance, and learn about the significance of Buddhism in Laotian culture. With its timeless beauty and cultural significance, Wat That Luang is a must-visit destination for travelers exploring the vibrant capital city of Vientiane.