Wat Pa Huak

Wat Pa Huak or the "Monastery of the Thornless Bamboo Forest" was founded in 1861 by Phaya Si Mahanam during the reign of King Chantharath (1850-72) and was named after the bamboo forest that used to be on the site.

It is situated to the northeast of Mount Phousi and opposite the Palace Museum. The rather dainty sim is in the Vientiane style. The exterior is of the temple is in dire need of repair. There is a delightful and elaborate carved wooden facade formerly covered in mosaics, although little remains. In the center of the facade there is a depiction of Indra riding Airavata, the three-headed elephant of Hindu mythology. The weathered doors still show traces of what they once were.

The most interesting features of Pa Huak are the quirky 19th-century murals decorating the interior walls. They provide fascinating insights into ordinary life at the time rather than the usual religious themes that one normally finds. Most interesting is the depiction of the story of the Buddha's humiliation or the taming of the haughty King Jambupati, by showing himself as the Buddha King of the world rather than a lowly monk. There are also portrayals of Luang Prabang receiving Chinese, European, and Persian visitors with elephants, horses, and tigers. It's all very lively. If you are a fan of history as told through murals (such as in Wat Phumin in Nan and Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai, Thailand), then Wat Pa Huak is a a treat.