WAT Kham Chanot, the Dwelling of the Great Naga
Kham Chanot or also known as Kham Chanot Wood in Udon Thani where the place is filled with mystery and legends and welcomes lots of visitors in both local and the provinces nearby as the worshipped site. Over 32,000 sqm space of land that is packed with the palm-tree like called ‘Chanot Tree’, also the isolated and solitude circumstance of the wood resulted in the place is so mysterious. In the past, Kham Chanot was renowned as “Wang Nakin Kham Chanot” (the Great Naga’s Dwelling) with the sacred pond situated inside the property. The belief among the villagers that the place is the gateway to ‘the Underwater Realm” which is the residence of the great Naga named “Sri Sut Tho Naga”. The area that claimed as Kham Chanot Wood is always oozing out with the water; as a result, the place formed to be the isle with the water boundary. With its mythology and the faith lead the site is very famous and attracts numerous of believers and tourists to come and witness by their sight.
About the Kham Chanot Wood
Kham Chanot nestles within the compound of Wat Siri Suttho Kham Chanot or also known locally ‘Wat Pa Kham Chanot” at Wang Thong sub-district in Ban Dung, Udon Thani. The place is worshipful among the citizen of both the Udon Thani province and other districts nearby resulted from its reputation as the dwelling of the great Naga and also the gateway to the underwater realm. It believes that the myth kingdom is ruled by the great Naga “Sri Sut Tho” and his queen “Sri Pathumma Nagaraj Devi.” Over the site is packed with the dense of gigantic palm-like tree “Chanod” that is long aged for each tree and the tree can be found at the site only in the country.
Inside Kham Chanot Wood especially the shrine of Sri Sut Tho the great naga we will see loaded of people from everywhere travel here to worship the great spirit. On the other side of the shrine, it is the enormous banyan tree root that the people also favorite to pay respect, too.
Apart from that, ‘the Sacred Pond” or “Kham Chanot Pond” at the center of the isle which is the natural fountain from the ground and always has the water oozes out. The pond which believed as the entrance to the underwater realm remains at the same level no matter what period of the year. According to the myth noted that monthly ‘Sri Sut Tho’ the great Naga would transform to the human in the 15th waxing moon night to reside at Kham Chanot. And he will turn back to the naga form in the 15th waning moon and passages via the sacred pond in the middle of the mysterious wood and sometimes there might be the bubble in the water. The holy pool is the most famous spot in the property that many people favor to pour the water onto the figure of the great naga to pay respect, and many of them bottle the water from the pond to bring back home for luck, too.
The Legend of the Great Naga
The belief about the Naga at Kham Chanot in Udon Thani may not be lesser than one in the Nong Khai province regarding the Naga rocket might be created by the magic of the ruler of the underwater realm is still be a strong faith of the residents. As well as the legend of Kham Chanot Wood, the local built the magnificent walkway to connect between the common land and the mysterious forest that furnished with the figures of two 7-head great naga serpents lie over along the way with approximately 300 meters long. And it is an excellent representative to the power and grandeur of the Naga in locally very well.
At the end of the Buddhist lent period on the 15th waxing moon of the 11th lunar month, it is believed among the residents as the day the great Naga would come up from the underwater region to get the air. The mysterious red luminous light that pops up from the middle of the sacred pond and floats in the sky similar to the Naga rocket at the River Khong in Nong Khai is considered as the breath of the Naga that anyone who witnesses this would be blessed for one’s life.
Visiting Kham Chanot
In the present, Kham Chanot Wood becomes one of the most famous landmarks in Udon Thani with its reputation regarding the story of the great Naga and the sacred pond. The place which beliefs as the gateway to the Naga’s kingdom that connected by the Naga bridge. And if you carefully notice you will see the chasm that claims as the connection between the human world and the underwater realm on the walkway.
And for anyone who is interesting to visit Kham Chanot you don’t have to worry to find the way to reach the destination. Since there are many signages guide the way to Kham Chanot which the location is about 90 km from the town and takes time around 1 hour and 50 minutes estimate.
At the entrance of Kham Chanot Wood is a location of the Buddhist temple “Wat Siri Suttho.” Once you enter the monastery, you will meet the gate of Kham Chanot Wood where the place is an isolated island surrounded with the water and green Chanod trees. Previously, the bridge to the wood is just thick logs lied merely for the people to walk across and was replaced with the wooden bridge, and finally, it reconstructed with the concrete structure in 1999. However, whichever construction the bridge always has a chasm which the villagers believe it is the mark to separate between the world and supernatural realm.
Once we bypassed the crack, it seems like we enter to another world that filled with the dense and enormous palm-like trees and the nippy climate. Everyone in the location walks on the bare feet without any shoe on. At the pond area, there is both the low part that we can see through the bottom and the bottomless spot. At the front of the large sacred pond is a small basin which allows the people to take the water for drink and wash the face for fortune. Anyhow, it is prohibited to use the water from the sacred pond to clean the feet ever!
Rules and Regulationsto visit Wat Kham Chanot
The location, in general, is packed with the crowded believers that come to the place to worship the worshipful Naga and experience the astonishing site. And since the area is very famous and appeals to a vast number of people from all directions to visit. So, it is necessary to manage and issue some rules and regulations for the guide the visitors at Wat Kham Chanot including;
1. Take off your hat, cap, show, and sunglasses
It believes that to pay respect to this sacred site, it supposes to take off a hat, cap, and sunglasses. And the place is not allowed to wear the shoes inside the area, so the visitors must take off their shoes at the bridge which is a connection path from Wat Sirisuttho to Kham Chanot area. And to avoid any lost and better organization, the visitors should carry on the shoes in the bag during your trip in Kham Chanot, too.
2. Do not allow for any incense stick and candle
Even though the propose of the people to visit Kham Chanot is to worship and make a wish to the great naga “Sri Sut Tho” and “Sri Pathumma Devi” but the place is not allowed to the people to pay respect with the incense stick and candle. It also a practical way to restore the wood from air pollution, as well.
3. Take back the Bai Sri Tray (sacrifice flower tray)
It is a tradition for anyone who blessed would fulfill the vow with the Naga Bai Sri Tray (the flowers tray made in Naga shape to sacrifice for the sacred spirit). However, the rule at Kham Chanot is after finish the sacrifice the devotee must bring back their tray in order to reduce the waste. This is not a big deal for the believers since they consider the sacrificed plate as the auspicious thing that will bring the good fortune for them.
4. Any powder and rub onto the tree within the compound
With the inappropriate behavior of the visitors previously that powder and rub the tree to get the lucky hint for their fortune. As a result, the significant amount of the trees inside the wood were lost. Therefore, it is restricted to do any damage to the trees inside the location including powder, scratch, sheer, and rub.
5. Do not tie the color worship fabric to the tree
Apart from the damage the tree mentioned above, it is prohibited to tie the tree with the colored worship fabric on the tree at Kham Chanot. Although it is a belief and symbol to show the faith and respect anything that exceeds would lead to the harm.
Furthermore, it is not allowed to throw any coins into the sacred pond and does not release any fish and aquatic animals in the water in Kham Chanot area. Also, it is restricted to drinks alcohol and smoke which are considered as the disparage to the guarding spirit of the location, as well.
The Sacrifice Things to Worship at Kham Chanot
It might be confused and complicated to know what things the visitors can bring to worship the sacred things at Kham Chanot. Here we collected the necessary information that will help you to prepare before visit the site.
- Bai Sri Naga (the flower tray made in Naga shape) or flower garland. It is optional depends on the budget.
- Betel nut Tray
- A tray of jasmine or garland (a must-not-miss)
- Fragrant, fragrant dried flower sachet, sandalwood oil or lip wax, aroma candle, and incense.
- Banana and/or seasonal fruits
- joss sticks (3 or 9 sticks) candle (lit in restricted location)
- Drinking water or Soft drinks in optional
- If it is a full option of the sacrifice will have the meal to offer to the great Naga including steamed fish, steamed prawn, and crab.
All of the offerings will be arranged properly and place in front of the Naga shrine. The tip to make a vow is to inform your name and then say “I…. would like to offer these good sacrifices with good respect. I want to make a wish for …..” And after the finish, your offering, for one with limited budget shall pay homage by your performance such as sing, traditional dance, or music playing with respect.
Apart from that mentioned above, there also are the offerings to fulfill the vow which are;
- Bai Sri Naga (3 sets in large size)
- 9 of offering items
- 9 kinds of fruits
- 9 bottles of fresh drinking water
- 1 bottle of Red soda drink
- 9 sets of Betelnut and cigarette
- 9 pieces of 9 desserts
These will be offered at the front of the shrine, and once the ceremony finished, then it will be the performance show. Then the revere will continue at the sacred pond and the giant banyan tree that will be accomplished for the worship.
How to get to Kham Chanot
Drives along the highway number 22 (Udon Thani – Sakon Nakhon) until you enter Ban Dung district. And keep the drive for about 9 km you will reach the destination.
Kham Chanot opens to the visitors daily between 6.00am – 6.00pm.