:: MAHA SARAKHAM

Situated in the heart of Northeastern Thailand, the small province of Maha Sarakham is considered to be a regional education centre, earning the name "Taksila of Isan" (Taksila was a city where education of all branches centered around in ancient India). The province also houses a sacred Buddha image and has many historical sites, with the province being the former site of the ancient Dvaravati city of Nakhon Champa Si. Maha Sarakham's beautiful hand woven silk and cotton fabrics are sought after for their original patterns. Maha Sarakham is 470 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of approximately 5,291 square kilometres.

:: Attractions

Archeological findings excavated from Phra That Nadune , or the Isan Phutthamonthon, indicated the area was once an ancient, prosperous town called'Nakhon Champa Sri'. The artifacts discovered here are now displayed at the Khon Kaen National Museum. More importantly, a miniature chedi containing the Buddha image of Phra Barom Saririkathat encased in a golden, silver and bronze box dating back to the 10-11th century of the Dvaravati era was found. The present Phra That Nadune was modeled after the miniature chedi.

The Isan Arts and Cultural Research Institute , located in Maha Sarakham University, regularly organizes shows and exhibitions on the Isan (NE region) culture and traditions, the evolution of silk weaving and local handicrafts, musical instruments, written literature, ancient inscriptions, and other related topics. Demonstrations of traditional classical dances and production of local handicrafts can also be seen at the Isan Arts and Cultural Center located in Maha Sarakham Ratchapat Institute.

The Dvaravati-style, red sandstone Phra Buddha Rup Yeun Mongkon and Phra Buddha Rup Ming Muang (Suwan Mali) Buddha images are considered the city's principal Buddha images, both built the same time as the founding of the provincial city. According to legend, when the town of'Kantarawichai' encountered a drought, the men created a Ming Muang Buddha image and the females created the Yeun Mongkon image. Finishing at the same time, the townspeople held a great celebration. Since then, rain has fallen regularly during the proper season, transforming this arid land into a fertile one. Both images are located at Wat Suwannaward , 14 km from the provincial city.

The Wat Mahachai Museum houses a collection of artifacts discovered in Isan, a collection of Isan written literatures and numerous ancient Buddhist scriptures.

Situated on the bank of the Chi River, the Kosamphi Park resembles a forested garden with a variety of plants and trees creating a dense canopy, inhabited by plenty of birds and harmless monkeys. A beautiful natural brook flows by, creating a pleasant, scenic environment.

The Chi Loung Park is an island created by the changing currents of the Chi River. The park was cut off from the mainland when the river's strong currents washed away the connecting piece of land, creating a new water route. A road encircles the island, which is teeming with large rubber trees.

Located 3 km from town, the Kaeng Loeng Chan is a large water reservoir and the site of the Freshwater Fishery Breeding Station. Its shoreline is a popular relaxing place for locals, particularly in the evenings.

Heading towards Roi Et, you'll pass the Pottery Village (Mooban Pan Mor) where locals sustain an income by making pottery the traditional way. Other Isan people use the products for containing water, curry and other uses.

The 8-m tall Ku Mahathat (Prang Ku Ban Kawao) is an ancient Khmer stone sanctuary that dates back to the 14th century. The shrine houses 2 earthenware Buddha images. Interestingly, the only entrance into the main Prang (tower) faces east, while the other 3 false doors face the other directions.

The historical Ku Santarat is a Khmer stone sanctuary that was created in the Bayana style of art approximately during 1157-1207, during the reign of King Chaiya Woraman VII, the last emperor of the Khmer Empire. Excavations made in 1971 unearthed many religious objects.

:: City attraction


Isan Arts and Culture Centre is in Maha Sarakham Rajabhat Institute. The centre has exhibits on the origins of Isan art, Isan literature on dried palm leaves and handicrafts such as weaving and fabric designs.

Isan Arts and Culture Research Institute is in Maha Sarakham University. The institute has exhibits on Isan arts and culture. Of particular interest are displays on the origins of weaving, the development of local fabrics, basketry, woodwork, metalwork, the development of pottery, household items, animal traps, related tools, musical equipment, literature, including ancient language inscriptions, displays of the contemporary art of students and various details on regional arts and culture, which are for sale.

Wat Maha Chai Museum is in the town. It houses artefacts found in the region, like stone temple markers, ancient Buddha images, door panels, and woodcarving over a century old. In addition, it has a large collection of Isan literature and dried palm leaf scriptures.

Kaeng Loeng Chan is 3 kilometres from town beside Liang Muang Road on Highway No. 213. Kaeng Loeng Chan is a large reservoir that is used to breed freshwater fish. The Maha Sarakham Fishery Station is based here. The area also includes an exercise park and a fish species display. It is a popular place for relaxing in the evening.

Mu Ban Pan Mo (pottery village) is at Tambon Khawao, 4 kilometres from Roi Et on Highway No. 208 and 1 kilometre on a left-hand road. Villagers here still practice centuries old techniques for making clay pots which Isan people use for keeping water and soup.

Chi Long Forest Park is at Ban Wang Wa, 10 kilometres from town on the way to Kosum Phisai. The park is on an island that was formed by a course divergence of the Mun River, a main waterway of the Northeast. The island is covered with shady rubber trees and a road circling it makes sightseeing most enjoyable.

Ku Maha That (Prang Ku Ban Khawao) is 13 kilometres from town on Chaeng Sanit Road. This ancient site dates from the 13 th century. It is built of laterite in the shape of a square tent. The doorways and lintels are of sandstone. Two clay statues are inside. A laterite wall surrounds the site.