In southern Laos the small town of Champasak, along the Mekong river, worth absolutely a visit because is the location of the Khmer ruins of Wat Phou Champasak.
I arrived in Champasak from Thailand through the Chong Mek border crossing, towards the city of Pakse. I got my Lao visa in Bangkok but is also possible obtain it from this border post.
Wat Phou Champasak is located at the base of mount Phou Kao, few kilometers far from the Mekong river in Champasak province.
There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries.
Wat Phou Champasak was a part of the Khmer empire, with Angkor as capital, to the southwest.
The mountain gained spiritual importance from the linga-shaped protuberance on its summit, the mountain itself was therefore considered the home of Shiva, and the river as representing the ocean.
The temple was naturally dedicated to Shiva, while the water from the spring which emerges directly behind the temple was considered sacred.
The site later became a center of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.
Like most Khmer temples, Wat Phou Champasak is made of laterite and sandstone and is orientated towards the east; 6 km east of the temple, on the west bank of the Mekong, lay the city, while a road south from the temple itself led to other temples.
Little restoration work has been done, other than the restoration of boundary posts along the path. Wat Phou Champasak was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001.
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