Well-lit natural halls lead to nine caverns full of Hindu/Buddhist shrines in the cave system at Wat Tham Khao Poon, the easiest to reach of Kanchanaburi’s many cave temples.
The first cavern in the “Temple of the Limestone Mountain Cave” houses a reclining Buddha image that has supposedly been here since the late 19th century and once received the offerings of King Rama V. From here you enter a series of narrow corridors in which getting lost would be easy if it weren’t for the abundant fluorescent lights.
Of the variety of shrines found in each room, two of the most eye-catching are a depiction of the hermit Ruessi and a collection of Ganesha images cluttered among other Hindu deities. A range of Buddha images include palm-sized statues squeezed into dark corners and a fairly large seated Buddha in the final room. Along with the dusty religious statuary, coloured lights join stalactites and stalagmites to create some eerie scenes.
On the way to the entrance, check out the sign explaining how some of the rooms were named after rocks resembling crocodiles or the roots of fig trees that have pierced inside. Tall visitors will need to duck in places, but there are no tight pinches and it’s easy to find your way from one end of the complex to the other. You also won’t need to climb many stairs here, unlike at Wat Ban Tham, Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi.
The vicinity of Wat Tham Khao Poon was used as POW camp during the Second World War and is often visited in conjunction with the Chung Kai War Cemetery, located 1.5 kilometres to the east along the same road.
How to get there
Wat Tham Khao Poon (also spelt Pun) is located five km southwest of the centre of town off Highway 3228, just west of the River Khwae Noi. You could come on a longtail boat tour, pay a songthaew or tuk tuk around 300 baht round trip, or venture here by bicycle.
If coming on your own, take the bridge west from Wat Thewasangkharam and bear right after the second, smaller bridge. Continue southwest, passing Chung Kai War Cemetery on the left, and you’ll reach the temple around a half-km after crossing the railroad tracks. Expect some hills if bicycling. Admission is 30 baht. Open 08:00-18:00.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 11th February, 2017.
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