Sala Keoku

Sala Keoku (Thai: ศาลาแก้วกู่, also spelled as Sala Keo Ku, Sala Keo Koo, Sala Kaew Ku, Sala Kaew Koo, Salakaewkoo, Sala Gaew Goo, Sala Kaeoku, Sala Kaeo Ku, etc. Alternative name: Wat Khaek) is a park featuring giant fantastic concrete sculptures inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. It is located near Nong Khai, Thailand in immediate proximity of the Thai-Lao border and the Mekong river. The park has been built by and reflects the personal vision of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his followers (the construction started in 1978). It shares the style of Sulilat's earlier creation, Buddha Park on the Lao side of Mekong, but is marked by even more extravagant fantasy and greater proportions.

Some of the Sala Keoku sculptures tower up to 25m in the sky. Those include a monumental depiction of Buddha meditating under the protection of a seven-headed Naga snake. While the subject (based on a Buddhist legend) is one of the recurrent themes in the religious art of the region, Sulilat's approach is highly unusual, with its naturalistic (even though stylized) representation of the snakes, whose giant protruding tongues beautifully complement the awe-inspiring composition.

The Sala Keoku pavilion is a large three-story concrete building, whose domes bear a surprising resemblance to a mosque. It was constructed following Sulilat's plans after his death. The 3rd floor hosts a large number of Sulilat-related artifacts, as well as his mummified body.

Perhaps the most enigmatic part of the park is the Wheel of Life, a circular multi-part group of sculptures representing the karmic cycle of birth and death. The composition culminates with a young man taking a step across the fence surrounding the entire installation to become a Buddha statue on the other side.

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Bunleua Sulilat - Biography
... man, he fell into a cave and thus met hermit Keoku, his spiritual mentor, after whom Sala Keoku (The Hall of Keoku) is named ... Upon graduating from his apprenticeship with Keoku, Sulilat took on monumental sculpting, and proceeded with the construction (in 1958) of his first concrete sculpture garden, Buddha Park near Vientiane ... In 1978, he commenced the construction of a new sculpture garden, Sala Keoku, located across the river from the old one ...