Tham Pa Fa Cave, named after Nong Pa Fa Lake (Lake of Soft-shelled Turtles) at the foot of the cliff, is located in Thakaek District near Na Khang Xang Village. Tham Pa Fa made the news in April 2004 following the discovery of 229 Buddha statues in the previously unexplored cave by a local villager, Mr Boun Nong. He noticed bats entering the cave and climbed a 15-meter-long vine to enter the small opening with the intention of collecting bats, a local delicacy.
Passing through the cave’s entrance, he looked into the cavern below and to his amazement saw a large Buddha statue. Proceeding into the cave, he realized that there were more than 200 Buddha statues ranging in height from 15 cm to over 1 meter. Mr Boun did not tell anyone in the village about his find for one week, as he did not believe what he had seen. He thought it might be his imagination, but finally returned with a group of nine villagers to investigate. Word about the new discovery soon spread, and the cave has since become one of Khammouane’s most visited attractions. The villagers guard the cave and its sacred Buddha statues 24 hours a day.
According to historians, the Buddha images are a collection from the Sikhottabong and Lane Xang eras, and some are thought to be of Khmer and Vietnamese origin, but no one knows for certain how these treasures got into the cave. Alongside the images are palm leaf manuscripts written in ancient Lao and Khmer scripts and Lane Xang, Lanna, and Pali dharma. The limestone formations within the cave are quite spectacular and add to its natural beauty.
Visitors must pay a small entrance fee. Please note that photography is prohibited in this cave. Close to the cave are stalls selling snacks, drinks, seasonal fruits, and incense produced in Na Khang Xang Village.
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