Xieng Khouang is located in the north of Laos. Most of its landscape consist of mountains and hills. XiengKhouang province offers the awesome beauty of high green mountains and rugged karsts formations. The original capital city, Muang Khun, was almost totally obliterated by US bombing and consequently, the capital was moved to nearby Phonsavanh. Of several Muang Khun Buddhist temples built between the 16th and 19th century, only ruins remain. Vat Pia Vat, however, survived the bombing and can be visited.
The main attraction in Xieng Khouang province is the Plain of Jars. Stone jars of different sizes, apparently carved out of solid rocks, are scattered all over the plateau. The biggest one reaches a height of 3.25 meters. Researchers have advanced different theories as to the function of the stone jars, which are estimated to be 2,500 to 3,000 years old.
An air of mystery hangs over the Plain of Jars. Local folklore says that, in the 6th century, the warrior king, Khun Jeuam, brought his army from Southern China and defeated the evil chieftain, Chao Angka. The mighty battle was followed by a mighty feast, at which hundreds of gigantic jars of lao-lao rice wine were consumed. Khun Jeuam was, apparently, as bad at tidying up as he was good at throwing parties, for he left behind all of the empty jars, of which nearly three hundred remain, scattered around the flat plains near Phonsavan, including his own six-tone 'victory cup.'
There is little physical evidence to say that this fanciful legend does not hold at least a little truth. Major wars have been fought on the plains over the centuries, as both Lao, Siamese and Vietnamese armies attempted to win control of them. In the nineteenth century, Chinese bandits further pillaged the plains so that, by the time French archaeologist, Madeleine Colani, arrived in the mid-1930s, almost all that remained of the ancient civilization of the plains were the jars.
Colani claimed to have discovered beads, bronzes and other artifacts that led her to believe that the jars were funerary urns, dating back 2000 years - an opinion that is held by many researchers today. However, Colani could not shed any light on how the huge jars, carved from non-indigenous limestone, had been transported to the plains - or why so many remained, despite centuries of war. Another mystery surrounds the artifacts Colani found at the site, for they have all since vanished...
One last mystery. Though many battles have ravaged these plains, most devastating were the secret battles and air raids of the Second Indochina War. Hundreds of thousands of bombs rained down upon the plains, destroying, among many others, the beautiful town and temples of Xiang Kuang, while running battles were fought and lost among the jars. American bombers also jettisoned unused bombs over the plains as they returned from raids on Vietnam. Yet, despite all the surrounding devastation, the jars were virtually untouched. Approximately 52 km north of Phonsavanh, hot spring will appeal to travelers in search of relaxation. The water of both, Ban Noi (Little Spring) and Ban Yai (Big Spring), reach a temperature of around 60 C.
|Xieng Khouang And Plain Of Jars|