Affectionately called Wat Pa Yai, the somewhat gaudy Wat Maha Wannaram was established in 1807 by Ubon’s second ruler.
It’s regarded as the principal wat in Ubon, containing one of the province’s most sacred Buddha images.
The large and striking stucco image, Phrachao Yai In Paeng, was crafted in the Lao style and has been completely covered in glittering gold leaf. It now sits in a modern hall with seven tiered roofs leading up to a golden spire that was still being worked on when we passed through. Set next to the original ordination hall and adorned with carved sandstone panels depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life, the building certainly does catch the eye.
Wat Pa Yai is the centre of merit making in Ubon, drawing busloads of Thais who kneel before the Buddha to wish for everything from a handsome boyfriend to a fortunate rebirth in a heavenly realm. Then they offer donations, explaining the temple’s not-so-modest appearance. Though great for the buses, the sprawling car park leaves something to be desired from an aesthetic standpoint.
How to get there
Wat Maha Wannaram is located on the south side of Sappasit Rd, a short walk east of Wat Chaeng.