Wat Inpeng Temple

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Wat Inpeng or Vat Inpeng is one of the less visited temples in the center of Vientiane, found near the banks of the Mekong river.

>>Wat Mahathat in Luang Prabang

Built in the 16th century, the temple was destroyed in 1827 during the invasion by the Siamese who destroyed most of the town. It has been rebuilt and renovated several times.

The Wat Inpeng is an active temple with resident monks. On the grounds are a sim with a porch that contains beautiful murals, a library building, a small chapel and several other Buddhist structures. Access to the grounds is through a large, very elaborate entrance gate with green seven headed Naga snakes guarding the temple.

Architecture

The Wat Inpeng’s sim has a very attractive façade. The large gable decorated with wood carvings with inlaid mosaics show a Buddha, a Dhamma wheel and floral motifs in gold on a green background. At the center of its roof is a Dok so faa, an ornamental element consisting of 9 miniature pagodas topped with multi tiered parasols.

Architecture of the temple

The stairway to the sim’s entrance is flanked by two small guardian lions. The stairs to the side entrances carry Nagas, mythological snakes believed to protect Buddhism. The sim’s main attraction is its porch. Its murals in very bright colors depict several Buddhist scenes including the Buddha teaching a number of followers, the Buddha subduing the elephant Nalagiri and a reclining Buddha.

The doors of the elaborate central and flanking entrances contain detailed wood carvings of floral motifs. Two rows of white pillars support the sim’s roof on the interior. Opposite the entrance to the back wall is the principal Buddha image, a large seated Buddha surrounded by smaller ones.

Other structures on the grounds

In front of the sim is an elegant, three storey drum tower. Next to it is a slender, golden colored stupa. One of the oldest structures of the Wat Inpeng is a small, square stone Ho Trai or library building adorned with stone sculptings on its entrance and windows. The Ho Trai is used to store the Tripitaka, the ancient manuscripts written on dried palm leaf containing the teachings of the Buddha.

Wat Inpeng Temple

Several open salas shelter images; one of them in front of the sim shelters two ancient standing Buddha images. A chapel dating from the early 19th century contains a Buddha in the Bhumisparsha mudra seated on a pedestal.

In front of a small pond is a statue of the Buddhist Earth Goddess, Phra Mae Thorani. In Buddhist mythology she appears as a young woman wringing the waters out of her long hair, drowning the armies of the demon Mara, who tries to stop the Buddha from meditating and reaching enlightenment. The temple’s resident monks live in the kuti.

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