February 25, 2016
A beautiful mountain cave that plays host to the local people once a year when they ask for its protection and blessing
When: Annually 12-15 April
Where: The Tham Erawan Cave on the border between Loei and Nong Bua Lamphu Provinces. Northeast Thailand
Situated inside the mountain of Pha Tham Chang is the Tham Erawan Cave, only accessible via a winding, 600-step, stone stair case. At the caves entrance sits the crossed legged golden Buddha statue of Phra Buddha (Chaisri Maha Munee Lokkanart).
Thereafter the entrance leads to a huge hall, dotted with various types of stalactites and stalagmites, in all manner of strange and eerie shapes, that are picked out from the caves dark interior, by both natural lighting from the caves opening and the colourful, electrical lighting that is strategically place within the caves depths. A local gruesome folktale, Nang Phom Hom (The Lady with Fragrant Hair), who was the daughter of an elephant is said to have taken place here.
During the festival at the nearby temple, local villagers will make khan mak beng, (elaborate sculptures of varying sizes made from banana leaves and flowers), which they later take in a colourful sedate procession to the cave via the staircase.
Later still the intricate khan mak beng’s will be judged with the winners receiving various prizes. The event also has its own beauty contest, a banana eating contest, traditional music and dance performances and of course this would not be Thailand if the festival did not also provide you the opportunity to treat yourself to buying local handicrafts and delicious local (If just a bit fiery) Isaan food.
The cave is 47 kilometers from Nong Bua Lam Phu town. To get there, take Highway No. 210 (Nong Bua Lamphu -Loei), turn right at Km. 13, and continue for approximately 2.7 kilometers.
Other things to do in what is one of the newest provinces in Thailand (Following Info from Wikitravel)
Monument and shrine of King Naresuan the Great. (พระอนุสาวรีย์และศาลสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) Built to commemorate King Naresuan the Great. who in 1574 led his army en route Nongbua Lampu to Vientiane under orders of the King of Hongsa, the kingdom of Burma which ruled Thailand at that time.
Nong Bua.(หนองบัว) This big pond is right in front of the city hall. As it never dries, the pond with beautiful back drop of Phu Phan Kham Range is used to relax by Nongbua Lampu residents.
Phra Wor Phra Ta City Pillar Shrine. (ศาลหลักเมืองพระวอ พระตา) The city pillar shrine was built to honor Phra Wor and Phra Ta, who founded the city.
Namtok Huay To Botanical Park. (วนอุทยานน้ำตกเฒ่าโต้) This shady park is a popular place for picnic. The secreted shrine of Pu Loop is located nearby.
Shell Fossil Museum. (พิพิธภัณฑ์หอยหิน ๑๕๐ ล้านปี) The museum features fossils of shells from the Jurassic period, dating to 140-150 million years ago. In the nearby area, 60 dinosaur fossils can be seen in the layer of siltstone, above the layer where the fossils of shells and ancient crocodiles are found.
Wat Tham Klong Pen.(วัดถ้ำกลองเพล) This is the province’s famed forest temple. Blanketed with lush vegetable and decorated with rock garden, the temple is shady and peaceful. The main hall (ubosot) houses a statue of Luang Pu Khao and two-sided ancient drum or Klong Pen.
Museum of Luang Pu Lod. (พิพิธภัณฑ์หลวงปู่หลอด) Located in the compound of Wat Tham Klong Pen is the Pmotita Pagoda, which houses a relic of the Lord Buddha sent from Nepal.
Wat Sri Koon Muang. (วัดศรีคูณเมือง) Located on Worarat Road, the ancient temple houses ancient stone leaves which are significant archeological artifacts, and ‘Luang Por Phra Chaichettha’ significant Buddha statue in Laotian style.
Phu Phan Noi.(ภูพานน้อย) The mountain provides great view point ‘Dao Bon Din’ or ‘Stars On the Ground’.
None Wat Pa. (โนนวัดป่า) The historical site once was ancient temple as stone Buddha image in the attitude of seating under protection of naga, ancient architecture and antiques from the Khmer era are found.
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