Wat Doi Thep Niramit (วัดดอยเทพเนรมิต) translates to the mountain temple of God's creation. However, "Doi Thep Niramit" is not quite a mountain in Thailand, but rather a charming forest hill on a small island in the Nam Un Reservoir, which is located in the Phang Khon district of Sakon Nakhon province.
A scenic dirt road winds its away through the huge reservoir to this beautiful hilltop temple. As you get close, you'll see Wat Doi Thep Niramit's gold Buddha statue standing atop the hill's forest. The statue's name is Bhumi Nopphakun (ภูมินพคุณ). Clear signage leads to directly to the temple, which surprisingly doesn't get many visitors, despite it being located in one of the most beautiful areas of Sakon Nakhon.
The tall gold Buddha statue (Bhumi Nopphakun) stands atop a multi-level pagoda, the inside of which has a 2nd floor worship hall with a large center pillar that's adorned with a colorful Buddhist mural and two gold Buddha sculptures. The round room, like many sacred halls in Thailand, was designed in part to enhance the sound of Buddhist chants, providing a beautiful resonant accent.
You can climb to the platform atop the pagoda, where the giant gold Buddha stands, and enjoy gorgeous views of the Nam Un reservoir and the Phu Phan mountains in the distance.
There is another pagoda on the grounds, which honors revered Thai monks, whose statues are placed beside two gold Buddha statues in front of a vibrant religious mural. This open-air pagoda serves as the main Viharn where locals bring food offerings to monks and hear sermons.
Wat Doi Thep Niramit (วัดดอยเทพเนรมิต) was built by two Lao monks, Luang Pu Si (หลวงปู่สี) and Luang Pu Phrom (หลวงปู่พรหม), over 100 hundred years ago. Later, the famous Thai monks Phra Ajahn Man Phurithatto and Ajahn Fun Acharo spent time here meditating and studying the Dharma.
The current abbot the temple is the highly revered Phra Khru Worathamchote (พระครู วรธรรมโชติ), who also goes by the name Luang Pu Sudjai Anuttaro (หลวงปู่สุดใจ อนุตตโร). Luang Pu Sudjai was born in Sakon Nakhon, studied directly under Ajahn Fun Acharo, and served him while staying at the legendary Thai temple Wat Tham Kham.
Wat Doi Thep Niramit is located a little less than an hour from Sakon Nakhon city. A nearby forest temple also worth visiting is Wat Pa Saeng Tham Khantiko (วัดป่าแสงธรรมขันติโก), named after the revered Isaan monk Luang Phor Bunpeng Khantiko (หลวงพ่อบูญเพ็ง ขันติโก), who also serves as the abbot.