Sala Keoku: Mystical Sculpture Garden in Thailand

In the mid-20th century, a young man from the Nong Khai province in Thailand named Bunleua Sulilat claimed that he wandered into a cave and met a religious hermit named Keo Ou and became Keo Ou’s disciple. After Sulilat parted ways with his spiritual master, Sulilat was inspired to create a universal religion. Sulilat amassed a meager following and started creating mystical sculptures that reflected the beliefs of several different religious traditions, including Buddhism.

In 1978, Bunleua Sulilat constructed a mystical sculpture garden in Tambon Wat That, Thailand named Sala Keoku, in honor of his spiritual mentor. Sala Keoku featured towering, surreal statues such as a statue of a serene Buddha surrounded by fierce snakes, a creature with a wide-open mouth reminiscent of modern emojis, and a many-armed statue of the Hindu god Shiva. Many of Bunleua Sulilat’s creations featured modern flourishes such as contemporary clothing.

Visitors can spend a day wandering among imposing statues such as a tall Buddha whose head towers above the treetops. Each statue is so intricate that it is best to allot enough time to view every eccentric detail. The statues of Sala Keoku are situated around a sizable pond full of giant fish that are eager to be fed.

The “Wheel of Life” section of Sala Keoku features several statues that deal with different seasons of life, such as two jolly skeletons locked in an eternal embrace. Bunleua Sulilat’s mummified body is located in a flying saucer-esque tomb on the third floor of a nearby mosque-like temple. Visitors can view colorful shrines dedicated to Hindu and Chinese deities en route to Bunleua Sulilat’s tomb.

You can think that Bunleua Sulilat was a mystic visionary or a spirited kook, but it is hard to deny the grandeur of the mystical sculptures that he created. If you’re traveling to Thailand, a trip to Sala Keoku is an absolute must.

Unnamed Road
Tambon Wat That, 43000

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