Thailand's Extreme Drought Uncovers Underwater Temple

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Thailand's Extreme Drought Uncovers Underwater Temple

 

Thailand's drought drove water levels in a dam reservoir to drop to record lows and revealed a submerged Buddhist temple in the middle of dry ground.

The reservoir in central Thailand reached less than three percent of its capacity, effectively revealing the remains of Wat Nong Bua Yai, a modern temple immersed during the dam's construction 20 years ago. Among the hundreds of visitors of the temple were some Buddhist monks, who walked through the broken structures.

Cracked earth and dead fishes surrounded the temple, where a headless 13-feet-tall headless Buddha statue sits and was adorned with flowers by the monks to pay their respects, according to online news agency Reuters.

 

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun (via Reuters)

 

"The temple is normally covered by water. In the rainy season you don’t see anything," said Somchai Ornchawiang, a 67-year-old retired teacher who visited the uncovered temple.

Before the construction of the dam, the temple was considered as the center of the community. Aside from being a playground and recreational area, it's where people used to conduct rituals, festivities, and even educational activities.

"When I was young, I always came to meet friends at the elephant sculptures in front of the main building to play there," said Yotin Lopnikorn, the headman of Nong Bua village that used to be near the temple.

Yotin added that this was not the first time that the ruins have reappeared, as a drought in 2015 first revealed the temple's existence after the dam's construction.

 

Photo Credit: Soe Zeya Tun (via Reuters)

 

Meanwhile, Somchai said that although he regretted the temple being flooded, he now worries about the effects of the drought on farmland.

With a capacity of 960 million cubic meters, the dam provides irrigation to over 1.3 million acres of farmland across four provinces. However, Reuters says the drought reduced that supply to merely 3,000 in the lone province of Lopburi.

According to the meteorological department, Thailand is experiencing its worst drought in a decade as water levels in the country's dams have fallen significantly short of the monthly average.

 

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