Meaning “Mountain Temple”, Wat Phou is a famous ruins of Hindu temple with stunning hilltop views over the surrounding land and the Mekong River in Champasak. Travelers visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site will be amazed by the magnificent workmanship of this long lost complex in the form of temple pillars, pediments, terrace, courtyard, walls, doorways, sanctuary, shrine and palaces.
Wat Phou Temple is considered one of the oldest archaeological sites in Laos, older than the great temple complex at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. One of the shrines at the site was constructed around the 5th century, but most buildings found in the complex are from the 11th to 13th centuries. Like other notable Khmer architecture in Southeast Asia, Wat Phou was constructed using sandstone, laterite and bricks. Among many of the outstanding carvings there are the Indra, the Hindu god of war and storms and rainfall, riding a three-headed elephant, and the Vishnu riding on a garuda (an eagle).
Since the mid 13th century, Buddhism replaced Hinduism in Laos and Wat Phou has become an active temple for Buddhist religious practice. An altar in the front section of its sanctuary feature four big Buddha images, other Buddha images are also found around the ruins.
Visiting Wat Phou on the full moon of the third lunar month (February), you will come across the temple’s biggest annual festival with many impressive ceremonies and fun activities going on during the week-long period. That includes monk-blessing ceremonies, elephant racing, buffalo and cock fighting as well as live music and traditional Lao dancing.