Located in the heart of Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is an enormous, golden stupa dedicated to Buddha. Built in the 1500’s, the stupa has a holy relic that is believed to be the breastbone of the Lord Buddha, making it a great national treasure of the Laotian people. At one time the entire stupa was supposed to be made of gold, but today only the top pinnacle is covered with gold leaf while the rest of it is painted gold.
Stupas are shrines that house relics or ashes of Buddhist monks or in special cases like Pha That Luang, the Lord Buddha himself. Several wars have caused significant damage to the stupa and it has been repaired and rebuilt several times. What you see today was rebuilt following WWII and is truly an impressive sight. In November, there is a Buddhist festival that brings thousands of people to Vientiane for three days of celebration. Our visit was actually about a week after the celebration had finished.
Walking the grounds of Pha That Luang only takes about an hour, but it is definitely a highlight of any visit to Vientiane. You will often find people making offerings to Buddha and praying as you visit this historic site. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, Pha That Luang is beautiful and the architecture is quite fascinating.
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