There is a saying among some old expats and tourists in Thailand: “If you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen them all.” There couldn’t be anything further from the truth, especially in Sakon Nakhon. While it’s fair enough to say that visiting a wide array of Buddhist temples isn’t for everyone, it’s a wonderful experience for others, especially those who have a keen appreciation for art and architecture.
Visiting Sakon Nakhon temples is like visiting mini art museums. Sometimes you’ll find sculptures, bas-relief tile murals, and paintings clearly made by the hand of master artisans, while other times they have the rough charm and beauty of the “outsider artist” that’s attracted so much attention among art enthusiasts in the West.
Yes, you will find some statues of the Buddha that look the same, but these are usually the statues on the platform inside the Viharns, where the monks deliver prayers and accept alms from villagers. The statues outside the Viharn, the architecture of the buildings, and the gated entrances, are almost invariably different. To say that they all look the same is like saying that all flowers look the same. Sure, some flowers look similar, but the closer you look, a world of difference opens to your eyes.
The same goes when looking at outdoor statues of the Buddha, where poses are different, facial and body structure is different, robes and crowns are different — all revealing different symbolic meanings, as well as the skill and imagination of the artist. There is no cast molding, mass production, going on here. Neither is there any mass manufacturing of the statues depicting mythological figures of Buddhist and Hindu tradition, such as Guanyin, Phra Rahu, Phra Mae Thorani, Ganesha, Garuda, Kinnari, Hong, Singha Lions, Yaksha giants, and more; as well as the statues of hermit Phra Lersi monks and famous Isaan monks such as Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta and Ajarn Fun Acharo.
In addition, when a tourist decides to travel the countryside of Sakon Nakhon, visiting temples off the beaten track, they likely will not run into another single tourist. For adventurous tourists looking to escape the trappings of the West and experience a new culture, it is really wonderful to wander around beautiful, rural temples all by yourself. Regardless of your religion (or lack thereof), there is something spiritually rejuvenating about such an experience. These temples are also excellent stepping stones to encounter small roadside stalls offering the best Thai and Isaan food you ever tasted.
There is an old poem by the British poet William Blake, where he talks of how enlightenment is to be able to see to see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, to hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. Browse our diverse photo gallery below, and see how the Buddhist temples of Sakon Nakhon can get you one step closer to that divine sight.
To learn more about any of the Sakon Nakhon temples featured above, just use the search function on our website. You will find their listing, with more information and additional photos.