udon thani legend
Wat Kham Chanot
The following is excerpted from a review of a work entitled The Enduring Sacred Landscapes of the Naga by Mayoury and Pheuiphanh Ngaosrivathana.
…There is a decline of the “naga” worship in writings and rituals to observe, what is aptly described in Chapter 9. In Vientiane and adjacent Northeast Thailand, we nowadays find the worship of the emblematic spirit called Sisotho (after the name of Buddha’s father called Sisothothana), who has his home in Wat Kham Chanot in Thailand’s Udon Thani Province. Offerings to him are made in June each year at the same time as the rocket festival is celebrated. Sisotho is also connected with the political power of the Emerald Buddha statue in Bangkok (see figure 78), which was housed more than 200 years in Vientiane, before it was taken to Thonburi in 1779. According to a booklet at Wat Kham Chanot, Sisotho was one of the two “naga” lords – the other was Suvannanag – who had dug the Mekong River by coming from Muang Sae and had the Indian God Indra fill it with “pla buek” or the Giant Mekong Catfish.
The review is at Mekong Press.
Blogger Marc Albert mentions Kham Chanot in a post earlier this year: Wat Kham Chanot – abode of naga lord Sisotho.
Wat Kham Chanot (Thai: วัดคำชะโนด) is a Buddhist forest temple near Kham Chanot village in Udon Thani province, Northeastern Thailand (Isaan).
The temple is located in the Wang Nakhin area at a lake where the naga lord Sisotho, a mythical large snake, is supposed to be living.
The worship of this naga lord is one of the main issue in this small forest monastery.
Around eight to ten monks live here on a permanent base.
Locals (Isaan and Lao people) believe that the naga lord has a hideaway on the island. It is connected to the other Wat premises by a bridge.
The entrance of the bridge is guarded by two large nagas. The shrine of the Wat is located on the island.
A small zoo as well as a rural market for visitors has been added to the temple.
A little over a decade ago, a hoax was uncovered in the Kham Chanot area. The headlines:
Ghostly Images On Thai TV A Hoax
• Story originally published by •
Straights Times / Singapore – May 20 2000
BANGKOK — Freakish footage of ghosts cavorting in a Thai forest which bears all the hallmarks of the mega-hit movie The Blair Witch Project has been declared a hoax by police, investigators said on Thursday.
The wobbly, infra red video footage showing impossibly tall, ghoulish figures has been shown repeatedly on national news broadcasts over the past week, gripping a nation obsessed with the supernatural.
“I have assigned police to examine many points about the sighting, as there were certainly a lot of irregularities,” said Colonel Panya Ma-men, the deputy provincial police commander.
“It was most likely an April Fools Day hoax,” he added.
Col Panya said officers in north-eastern Udon Thani province’s Kham Chanot Forest, 564 km from the capital Bangkok, saw two groups of people leaving the forest on April 1, the day the video was shot.
One group questioned at about 3 am told police they had come to make an offering to spirits in the forest.
A search of their bags revealed a video camera.
“I am not sure exactly why they did this,” Col Panya said.
The ghostly figures, tall and skinny with no shirts, appeared in the video screaming and waving their arms.
The grainy, jumpy footage coupled with the night time sounds of the forest combined to provide a creepy effect.
With its crude lighting and raw footage look, the 1999 hit movie Blair Witch Project, produced for a pittance by virtual unknowns Daniel Myrick and Gregg Hale, returned tens of millions of dollars in profits for the young film-makers. — AFP
Thai ‘Ghost’ Caller Arrested
• Story originally published by •
News 24 / South Africa – May 25 2000
Bangkok – Police have arrested a man believed to be the mastermind behind Thailand’s great ghost swindle, police said on Thursday.
Kitti Papasarobol, who produced a widely-viewed videotape in which he dressed as a monk and supposedly contacted a screaming ghost, was arrested late on Wednesday night on charges of cheating one of his followers out of 300 000 baht ($7700).
A video showing Kitti dressed as a Buddhist monk and contacting ghoulish figures, including one terrifying and real-looking howling spectre, has been shown repeatedly on television broadcasts in past weeks and has been the subject of in-depth articles in several newspapers.
The ghost in the video was extremely tall and skinny, wore no shirt and appeared in the video screaming and waving its arms in a forest at night.
After the release of the video, a number of people travelled to the area, in north-east Thailand’s Udon Thai province, where the film was supposedly shot, to look for ghosts.
Before the video was released, a woman whom Kitti had told he could contact ghosts gave him approximately 300 000 baht so he could improve her fortunes through his spirit links, police said.
But when Kitti was exposed as a fake, the woman pressed charges against him for cheating her out of money, police said.
Police said they believed the “ghost” in the video was actually an acquaintance of Kitti standing on a box.
Kitti has denied the charge of cheating and has maintained he can genuinely contact ghosts. – Sapa-AFP
I came across the above pair of articles here.
In late April and early May of 2000, TV news shows in Thailand repeatedly aired apparently authentic footage of a ghostly seance that had occurred deep in the heart of the Kham Chanot forest. The video had been shot at night using an infra-red camera, and it showed a man dressed as a Buddhist monk making contact with other-worldly spirits. One spirit appeared as an impossibly tall and skinny man who wore no shirt and ran through the forest, howling, screaming, and waving his arms. The shakiness of the footage, combined with its sounds of the night-time forest, produced an air of eerie authenticity.
Not only was the footage shown repeatedly on television, it was also the subject of a number of newspaper articles. Many people travelled to the area in which the video had been shot in north-east Thailand’s Udon Thai province, 564 km from Bangkok, hoping to see the ghosts for themselves.
Police, however, were skeptical about the authenticity of the footage. At first they speculated that the video had been produced as an April Fool’s joke. They reported that two groups of people had been seen leaving the Kham Chanot forest on April 1. One group, who was questioned leaving the forest at 3 a.m., had told the police they had been in the forest making an offering to the spirits.
Later, on May 24, the police arrested a local cult leader named Kitti Papasarobol whom they charged with creating the fake footage and defrauding one of his followers. Apparently Kitti had told one of his followers, a woman, that he could contact ghosts, and that if she gave him 300,000 baht ($7700) he would use his links with the spirit world to improve her fortunes. She gave him the money, and he then produced the video of the seance to demonstrate his ability to contact the spirit world.
The police identified the man dressed as the buddhist monk in the video as Kitti Papasarobol. They theorized that the ghost in the video was an acquaintance of his who was standing on a box.
Kitti denied the charges and maintained as his defense that he really could contact spirits. Police gave him a chance to prove this ability by requesting that he produce a Buddhist amulet from sand. He failed the test and was sent to jail.
I suspect he may have been trying to capitalize on an earlier filming incident. A little more on that below.
The TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) Website gives a very brief mention to both features of Kham Chanot.
It is a sacred place where villagers in the vicinity come to pay homage, as it’s supposed to have an entrance to the underworld, where the “Serpent King” reside. The area also inspires a famous ghost story which has drawn many local and foreign visitors. The 20 rai area is thickly covered with Cha not trees which is a cross between a sugar palm and a coconut palm. These trees help keep the atmosphere very cool. There is also a shrine and a sacred pond for paying homage.
Another brief reference says: The Chanot tree (Livistona saribus), which looks like a hybrid of palm and coconut trees, abound here. In the past, locals called this place “Wang Nakhin Kham Chanot” (Palace of Naga in Kham Chanot). It is widely believed that in the middle of the Chanot trees lies a sacred pond, which serves as a gate to the Underwater City.
Kham Chanot (คำชะโนด) Located at Wat Sirisuttho in Tambon Wang Thong, this sacred place gains respect from villagers in neighbouring areas. It is said to be an entrance to the water world, a legendary place concerning the great Naga (serpent) according to a belief among Lao and Isan villagers. Nowadays, the place is densely covered with Chanot trees, which resemble a mixture of palm and coconut trees. Inside, there is a shrine of Chaopu Sisuttho and a sacred well for worship.
nicko7054 | May 27, 2009
Buddhist Temples Thailand,Wat Kham Chanot,Udon Thani Province,April,2009.Road to Ban Kham Chanot,April 17th,2009.Grounds of Kham Chanot,market stalls,Amphoe Ban Dung.Great footage from this temple in North East Thailand near Wang Nakhin วัดศรีสุทโท จังหวัดอุดรธานี タイの仏教寺院 泰国寺庙 태국의 불교 사원 đền thờ Phật giáo Thái Lan วัดพุทธ
Mystery Island is a blog entry from earlier this year about a first visit to Kham Chanot.
In the midst of this barren plain sits an oasis, floating like a dream. We dismount the motorcycles at the edge of a serene green lake. In the middle of the lake is tethered a compact little island, every square inch of it bristling with towering palm trees. The palm trees that cloak the island are unique, Pen and Kanjana explain. They grow only here, on this small island, in the middle of this desert, in the middle of nowhere.
“This is the only place these trees can be found,” Pen insists. “They won’t grow anywhere else. They have tried to transplant them elsewhere, but they failed.”
The impossibly tall trees look thick and ancient and strange, nothing like the youthful, slender coconut trees I am used to seeing scattered gracefully across the rice paddies. What they are trying to tell me, I realize, is that this island is a mystery. These trees are a miracle. Why does this thicket of trees grow only here and nowhere else on earth? Of course, I have no way of verifying the fact that the trees grow nowhere else. It seems a little suspect, but I cheerfully agree with them and enter the realm of the mystical.
This caught my notice, too:
Pen lowers her voice and passes on another mysterious bit: A story about a Thai man who was hired to show outdoor movies on the island all night long. The crowd who gathered to watch the movie was silent and odd. The man showing the movies had to be out by 4 a.m., he was warned, or he might never leave the island. When the man went to leave the island, he had trouble finding his way out. He eventually made it off the island, and the strangely silent movie fans, he learned afterward, were ghosts. I’ve heard many American versions of the encounter with the stranger who turns out to be a ghost, but I like this Thai twist on it.
My wife, Jack, offered that she believes this incident occurred back when she was a girl, and she seems to firmly believe it to be true.
She also believes that the island floats, which seems to be implied elsewhere.
A Thai video of Kham Chanot.
watintaram | November 03, 2009
คำชะโนด ป่าคำชะโนด เมืองพญานาค ธานีพญานาค ผีจ้างหนัง
The original names of the ancient structures at Phu Phrabat are unknown, but local people named them after the content of their folklore called “the Legend of Nang U-sa and Tao Baros”. According to this legend, Nang U-sa, a foster daughter of Tao Kong Phan who ruled the Kingdom of Phan (now Phu Phrabat), fell in love with Tao Baros, a son of the ruler of Pako City. The couple secretly lived together in Hoh Nang U-sa (U-sa’s chamber). When Tao Kong Phan knew the truth, he challenged Tao Baros to compete with him to build a temple in one day. Instead, Tao Kong Phan lost and kept his promise to kill the loser, which was himself. Thereafter, Nang U-sa followed Tao Baros to his kingdom where she was bullied by his former wives. With sorrow, she returned to Phu Phrabat and finally died. Tao Baros followed her to Phan and died from sadness.
Accordingly, the site has rocks named Hoh Nang U-sa (Lady U-sa’s chamber), Wat Porta (The father-in-law’s temple), Wat Louk Khoei (The son-in-law’s temple), Heebsob Porta (The father-in-law’s coffin), Heebsob Louk Khoei (The son-in-law’s coffin) and Heebsob Nang U-sa (Nang U-sa’s coffin).
A little more detail is in this account of the Story Of Nang Usa And Tao Baros.
Nang Usa was the daughter of Phaya Kong Phan, ruler of the city Phan, and Nang Saeng Deuan. When Nang Usa was old enough to receive an education, Phaya Kong Phan placed her in the care of the ascetic Rishi Chanta. A tower was constructed in the forest for her to live in. Nang Usa studied the arts under Rishi Chata until she reached the age of 16. She began to feel lonely and restless because she had no contact with other people and also because she had now reached the age of maturity.
One day Nang Usa made a float in which she placed a note bemoaning her loneliness and restlessness. This she set adrift in a small stream in the forest in the hope of finding a lover. The float was carried along in the stream until it reached the Mae Khong River. At that time Tao Baros, son of Tao Narai and Nang Kham Phaeng Kaew of Pakho Town, was bathing in the river. He saw the float and, after reading the note, set out on horseback in search of Nang Usa, not stopping until he had found her. He immediately fell in love with her and invited her to go and live with him. When the news of this reached Phaya Kong Phan he became upset and challenged Tao Baros to compete against him in constructing a temple. The temple had to be built in one night and construction had to be completed before the morning star (Venus) appeared. Whoever could not complete the temple in time would be considered the looser and would be beheaded.
Construction of the temples began with the setting of the sun. However, Nang Usa feared that Tao Baros would be defeated. She thus thought of a trick, she would light candles and place them in a tree on the top of a mountain to fool Phaya Kong Phan into believing that the morning star had risen and he would stop construction. Tao Baros continued building the temple and defeated Phaya Kong Phan. After that, Tao Baros took Nang Usa to live with him in Muang Phakho. They had not been living together long when Nang Usa became the subject of evil gossip, so she ran away and went back to live in her tower where she pined for Tao Baros and soon died of a broken heart.
When Tao Baros knew that Nang Usa had run away and gone back to her tower he set out after her to try and persuade her to return; however, he was too late. On learning of her death he was greatly distressed and he also died. After her death Nang Usa was reborn as Nang Suchada, consort of Indra and Tao Baros was reborn as Indra. Together they enjoyed sublime happiness in the heavenly realm.
A thorough version of the story is here.
Many sites have very good collection of photos of this park, such as this slideshow.
One thing I found in researching both Phu Phra Bat and Kham Chanot is that of course Thai sites detailing the legends far outweigh those in English. I wish I understood Thai — so much is available that I find I am unable to adapt. Unfortunately, Google translation results in near-gibberish when Thai text is converted into English.
Thailand is rich in legend and lore. I deem it a shame that I do not have access to the means of studying what is available over there; nor do I have the time remaining to me in terms of lifespan.
I should have found Thailand half my life ago…but if I had, then I know I would not today be married to the dear Thai woman who brings me such hope and joy.
udon thani legend
Breeders’ Cup: The Legend Continues …
The Hennegan Brothers (www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com) present a look back at the history of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
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