Wat Thep Kanyaram (วัดเทพกัญญาราม) is Sakon Nakhon forest temple that is highly revered, because it is home to the 97 year old Luang Pu Sutham Thampalo (ลวงปู่สุธัมม์ ธัมมปาโล), one of the last remaining disciples who studied under Ajarn Mun Bhuridatta (1870-1949), the co-founder of the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism.
Ajarn Mun began as a renegade monk, who ignored the institutionally sanctioned Buddhist practices of his time. He wandered the forests of Northeastern Thailand (including Sakon Nakhon), teaching strict meditation and monastic practices that were believed to be more closely aligned with what the Buddha taught and practiced. Luang Pu Sutham has continued with this tradition at Wat Thep Kanyaram, where students come to learn under his master tutelage, and worshipers come to pay their respects.
Wat Thep Kanyaram's forest is not very large, being located in a highly developed area of Sakon Nakhon. It is located just off the Route 22 highway, going in the direction of Kasetsart University and the Chaloem Phrakiat Lotus Park. The temple has a beautiful teak Viharn where people congregate to meet with Luang Pu Sutham Thampalo and the other monks at the temple.
In the middle of the temple forest is a stunning Ubosot (Ordination Hall), the staircase of which is guarded by two imposing 9 headed Naga serpents. Many Thailand temples have a single-headed Naga serpent as the guardian of the Ubosot's entrance. The 9-headed serpent is known as Vasukak (the earthly King), and his 9 heads symbolize the nine immortal powers of the universe: lighting and thunder, rain, wind, fire, law and order, the spirit entities, wealth and beauty, destruction, and the creative power of Brahma at the center.
If you are in the area of Wat Thep Kanyaram, we would also suggest visiting Wat Si Suk Samran, which is located just 4 kilometers further down the highway on the same side of the road. Or, if you are feeling a bit hungry, next door to Wat Thep Kanyaram is the excellent pond side restaurant Ran Rim Klong Gung Pao.