Laos is a country that we know little about, it is only in recent years that the nation has opened to the outside world. But the country has many important archaeological sites, amongst the most renowned in Southeast Asia. One of the most significant and important is Vat Phou, the ruins of a Khmer Hindu temple complex, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Sacred Khmer Temple
Based on archaeological evidence there was a temple on the site, which is on a mountain, since the 5th century AD. At this time, the region came under the cultural and religious influence of India. Vat Phou was associated with the Chenla or Champa kingdom. The temple was not far from the important city of Shrestapura, which is now a ruin.
It is believed that the site was considered holy because of a lingam shaped hillock on the Phou Khao mountain. This meant that the site became associated in the minds of the locals with the Hindu god Shiva. As a result, the temple is dedicated to Shiva.