Unusual for Luang Prabang
Published: 27th November, 2018
Wat Khili (Wat Souvanna Khili), found on the main street near the tip of the peninsula, was built in 1773 by Chao Kham Sattha of Xieng Kouang. This explains why the temple is the same style as those found near the Plain of Jars, which makes Wat Khili unique amongst Luang Prabang temples.
Known as the Temple of the Golden Mountain, Wat Khili had fallen into disrepair but thanks to the Buddhist Heritage Project, it has undergone meticulous restoration. Wat Khili “holds a special place in the pantheon of Luang Prabang’s Buddhism, largely due to the revered monk Pha Khamfan Silasangvaro, an intellectual, writer, artist and architect who was Abbot of Vat Khili from 1931 until his death in 1987.”
The temple is now home to the Buddhist Archives, which preserves historic photographs and documents, many of which had been safeguarded by monks in Luang Prabang throughout the turmoil and war of the 20th century. The archives are not open to the public but there is usually a special public exhibition on, in addition to a bookshop.
Though the temple is built in the Xieng Kouang style, note how the later constructed buildings incorporate French colonial architecture. The Sala Thammaviharn, the white two-storey building that was once the monks residence and is now home to the exhibition and archive, looks like an elegant French villa. This building was part of the restoration work that also included the main sim, a 200-year old library (now an exhibition honouring Abbot Satthu Khamfan Silasangvaro) and a manuscript storage chapel adorned with gorgeous glass mosaics.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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