We saw Wat Mai Ban Tan from the highway and decided to stop and have a look. We were just east of Udon Thani Province, in Sakon Nakhon Province, on Highway 2091.
This is a fairly new temple, and I haven’t found out much about it. There’s still a lot of work being done on the outer grounds (those near the temple are immaculate). The temple and immediate surroundings show that Wat Mai Ban Tan is very well funded.
I took off my shoes when everyone else did, but I forgot about my hat. Everyone there smiled at me and didn’t say a word. Eventually one of my Thai companions mentioned it, and I took it off.
This beautiful little temple on the pond would have to wait until we finished inside.
The second level looks down on the first from an interior balcony that runs all the way around (see the 3rd pic up). The walls are lined with statues of venerable departed monks. They’re all very well done, and all executed in the same style, presumably for this space. I was drawn to the one below with his snake staff.
Doors on four sides lead out to an exterior balcony. From there stairs lead up to the third level. I’ve seen vessels like the one shown below claimed to contain a bone fragment of the Buddha, but I have almost no information on this temple.
In two corners are small collections of Buddhas.
Outside we got a close look at Buddha riding a three-headed gold elephant. He is flanked by a pair of Phaya Naga that either have very large horns, or are breathing fire (and have very small horns).
Above the Buddha’s head is the dharmachakra, or “Wheel of the Dharma“. This is the symbol of Buddhism in Thailand. The flag below, alternating with the flag of Thailand, is flown along the way to temples in Thailand – and to Thai temples elsewhere in the world.
The elephant is a symbol of physical and mental strength, as well as responsibility and earthiness. The elephant also appears as a guardian of temples and of Buddha himself.
The peacock is a symbol of openness and acceptance. Peacocks flank the four entrances to Wat Mai Ban Tan.
Flanking the entrance to the smaller temple shown above are one green and one gold Phaya Naga.
This may be my favorite Phaya Naga so far.
Inside the temple is a “Naga Buddha”, a Buddha seated on a Phaya Naga. One account I have seen said that a Phaya Naga in the form of a large cobra sheltered the Buddha with it’s hood to protect him from the elements, so as not to interrupt his meditations. Phaya Naga are often shown as guardians or protectors of the Buddha.
On the Phaya Naga’s “hood” is the dharmachakra. This Buddha is very consistent in style with the Buddha in the larger temple.
Some temples are decorated with collections of Buddhas and other entities and symbols in a variety of styles. At Wat Mai Ban Tan nothing is redundant, and everything fits so well that it appears to have been created specifically for this temple. The exception is the collection of Buddha figures, but those are presented in glass display cases.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 19 pictures below.