Twin hilltop ruins
Published: 18th June, 2016
The ancient chedis of Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng and Wat Khao Suwan Khiri reach from the top of a pair of forested hills and can be seen from all over the historical park.
Accessed by 144 laterite steps that could be out of an Indiana Jones flick, Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng stands atop a sacred hill of the same name. An ancient chronicle states that a hermit named Satchanalai told a local chieftain to construct the city at the foot of the hill. A rather bare-looking Buddha image sits on the remains of a wihaan, while a large mondop houses a shrine to a local deity known as Chao Mae La Ong Sam Lee.
Continuing west past some broken chedis, the ridge crests downwards before cutting back uphill to 49 more steps leading to Wat Khao Suwan Khiri. If you need a break, a pavilion is found here amid the forest.
The centrepiece of Wat Khao Suwan Khiri is a bell-shaped chedi rising from a massive laterite brick base, where pilgrims would circumnavigate the chedi three times to show respect and earn merit. Walking Buddha images are placed in the niches. Two low-lying gates appear to be of a Chinese style; the faces of the guardian statues have been lost but details are still visible on the armour.
It’s usually breezy on the hilltops, which afford views over the rest of the historical park and beyond. Migratory white cranes swarm the trees late in the rainy season -- locals often use umbrellas to shield the inevitable streaks of “white rain” that drip from above.
These are the two northwestern-most sites found inside the central historical park grounds. Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng is reached by a stairway that begins just northwest of Wat Chang Lom, while a second stairway runs from the road up to Wat Khao Suwan Khiri from the south. Steps and walkways connect the two sites along the hilltops, so you don’t have to go back down the way you came.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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