Sala Kaew Ku is a garden of enormous bizarre and fantastic sculptures of a spiritual nature.
Buddhist and Hindu imagery are represented, with multi-headed, multi-armed deities, human-animal hybrids, Buddhas, and Phaya Naga towering over visitors.
Legend says that as a young man, Bunleua Sulilat fell into a cave, and in that cave met hermit Kaew Ku. Kaew Ku became his spiritual mentor. Sala Kaew Ku means “Hall of Kaew Ku”.
Below is the only depiction I’ve seen of Phra Mae Thorani in which she is not wringing water from her hair to protect the Buddha. In this sculpture she is coming to the aid of humans in a boat.
Bunleua Sulilat built his first sculpture garden, Buddha Park, near Vientiane, Laos , in 1958. He fled across the Mekong River into Thailand in fear of the political climate of Laos after the 1975 communist revolution, and in 1978 began work on “The Hall of Kaew Ku”, which would be more extravagant and feature larger statues than his earlier park. The newer park is located near Nong Khai, Thailand.
Pics above and below show the gate to a sort of small courtyard filled with mostly more life-sized statues.
Below is a look inside the courtyard.
Sulilat’s personality and sculpture and his blend of Buddhism and Hinduism attracted followers, and the sculpture park became the center of a religious sect. Followers gave him the title Luang Pu, usually reserved for monks.
Both sculpture parks were built by untrained volunteers working for free. Sulilat was wildly popular among his followers, but the locals thought he was insane.
The Sala Kaew Ku pavilion building has shrines/temples on 3 floors, and it seems appropriate that they in the “collection of Buddhas and other effigies” style. Among them are many pictures of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat.
Sulilat fell from one of his huge sculptures and his health deteriorated until his death in 1996. His mummified body is enshrined on the 3rd floor.
Large windows on the 3rd floor offer a nice view over the park.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 40 pictures below.