WAT AHAM TEMPLE
Wat Aham is located next to Wat Wisunarat, on the Phomathat Road, just south of Phousi Mountain in Luang Prabang. Wat Aham in Laotian means "Monastery of the Open Heart". The temple consists of an ordination hall and two ancient stupas. Its construction dates back to 1818, on the site of an even more ancient temple dating back to 1527. It is a very calm place, except when children from the nearby school go through the grounds!
Between Wat Aham and the street are two large and very old banyan trees, said to protect the guardian spirits of Luang Prabang City (Devata Luang).
From the outside, Wat Aham is the shape of a tent standing on a white and rectangular base that seems to be made of marble with a pointed, tiled and gigantic three-tiered roof. Around its flanks, at the entrance, are guardian tigers and next to them, Hanuman and Ravana, two characters come from Phra Lak and Phra Ram.
Locals believe that around 14th century on the site where Wat Aham is located, a sanctuary was built for the Guardian Spirits, namely Pu-No and Na No. Inside the temple the walls, pillars, main doors and lattice windows are mainly painted red and golden. There are many other paintings and murals, which come from a talented painter, most of these paintings express famous scenes, especially describing hell.
The sanctuaries were ruined two centuries later, during the reign of King Phothisarath who was a Buddhist devotee who ruled to end animism and spirit worshipping. So he demolished the sanctuaries and then established a Buddhist temple on the place of Wat Aham.
You can go here by foot, by tuk-tuk or by bike. A ‘walk’ by tuk-tuk could cost between about US $1 and US $2, depending on the distance, and your negotiation skills. You must also buy tickets before entering. The temple, it opens daily from 8am to 5pm.
Today, Wat Aham is no longer a religious ceremonies center of local people, but still always a well-known tourist site that houses numerous monks.