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Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram (วัดติโลกอาราม)

In Phayao province (พะเยา)  in North Thailand, there are a few big lakes. In front of one of the big lakes there is this OTOP Phayao Stop.  It’s likely you will not miss it because there are a number of restaurants located nearby.

Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

The OTOP Shop Phayao sign opposite the lake.

Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

If you want to get to the Buddha in the middle of the lake (Wat Tilok Aram วัดติโลกอาราม), you have to take the boat across from here. Life jackets are provided.

Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

Above: Wat Tilok Aram วัดติโลกอาราม

Here’s the legend, translated by the locals:

Once, someone was in the lake fishing when heavy rains suddenly came. Because he was afraid of the rain, he seek shelter near a big tree. But the wind was so strong that it toppled the tree. The man glimpsed the head of the Buddha (but not the entire statue). He told others and a chanting ceremony was held to invite the Buddha to emerge from the lake. The chant went on for 7 days before the Buddha was successfully removed from the lake (those days in this small town, sophisticated machinery were not used).

Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

This Buddha have been underwater for over 300 years and yet the face remain intact with no stratches or damage whatsoever.  One night, a government officer dreamt that the statue wanted to return to the lake where it came from. Thus the statue was taken back here, to the middle of the lake.

Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

We went there around sunset- so you can see as we were leaving, it was getting dark. The boatman usually finish taking passengers by 6pm but was kind enough to make an exception for us that day.  The brown thing you see on the left bottom corner is part of the boat.

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Oldest Underwater Temple in Kwan Phayao, Wat Tilok Aram

Here’s the view of the land of Phayao taken from the boat.

After your visit, you can dine at one of the many seafood restaurants located there. Tip: Go to a shop with the most customers – the locals always know which shop has the most delicious food 😉

 

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