Once upon a time I told you about Zhang Huan’s Ash Jesus and Ash Buddha statues and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, so how about a religious-themed public park in Laos* that contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues? Open since 1958, Buddha Park was created by a a Thai/Isan/Lao mystic, spiritual cult leader and artist known as Bunleua Sulilat. His unique perspective of integrating Hinduism and Buddhism was influenced by a Hindu rishi under whom he studied in Vietnam.
Made of reinforced concrete, the somewhat ornate and bizarre sculptures appear to be centuries old, but are not. Besides depictions of humans, gods, animals, and demons, there are also characters of Buddhist beliefs like Avalokiteśvara, and characters of Hindu lore, including Shiva, Vishnu, and Arjuna. One notable sculpture that resembles a giant pumpkin is three stories tall. Visitors enter through a demon head’s mouth and climb staircases that represent the three levels of hell, earth and heaven. From the top, the entire park is visible including it’s best known attraction, an enormous 120-metre-long reclining Buddha. And even though many tourists come here, the park is used by many monks for resting, reading or studying.
*Let it be remembered for eternity that this is our first time in Laos.