Located in Ubon city’s northern reaches but well worth the effort to reach, Wat Phra That Nong Bua features the only depiction of the Mahabodhi temple in Northeast Thailand.
Built in 1957, it’s a Thai-style replica of the ancient stone pagoda that stands at the place where the Buddha is believed to have become enlightened at Bodh Gaya, India, some 2,500 years ago.
Rising to an impressive 56 metres high, the rectangular-based pagoda has four corners and a width that gets gradually narrower as it extends up to a bell-shaped chedi crown. Between the ornate golden trim, carved beige-stone panels depict scenes from the Jatakas, stories of the Buddha’s previous lives. The entire inside is one high-ceiling room awash in glittering golden pillars and a central shrine containing relics thought to have come from the Buddha himself.
Adjacent to the pagoda and just beyond a tall drooping Bodhi tree, a huge newly built ordination hall is an excellent example of Ubon’s distinguished modern temple architecture. Broad semi-circular windows cover the upper walls on either side, each divided by the “spokes” from half of a Dharma wheel. The hall stands on a marble base and is held up by tall pillars adorned with gold-leaf depictions of Bodhi leaves. All of this culminates at an impressive shrine with nine large golden Buddha images, including a reclining Buddha up top.
Wat Nong Bua supports one of Ubon’s finest teams of wax-carving artists who can be seen in an on-site studio working on their elaborate floats in the weeks leading up to the annual Candle Festival. Their floats often take the top prize; you might get lucky and see one of them parked on temple grounds at other times of year as well. Replicas of some of the best floats are also featured in front of the ordination hall.
How to get there
Wat Nong Bua is located on Thamma Withi Road, just west of Chayangkun Road and a couple of km northwest of the airport. Songthaew #3 or #10 can drop you close to the temple along Chayangkun, or you can take a taxi or tuk tuk round trip for around 100-200 baht, depending on where you’re coming from and how long you spend here.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th July, 2015.