Wat Nong Bua Yai may be the most unusual Buddhist temple in Lopburi province. The temple was hidden underwater for 20 years after the construction of the nearby Pa Sak Cholasit Dam. But its remains have returned to the surface due to an extreme, decade-long drought in central Thailand.
Crumbling pillars supporting nothing, stone steps leading nowhere, a 13-foot headless Buddha statue, and other scattered ruins that were completely submerged during the rainy season can now be seen in full. (Check out this video to see some drone footage of the resurfaced temple.)
The reservoir is down to just 4 percent of its normal water levels, and though the local people are well aware of the serious impact of the drought, the risen temple is seen as a place of good fortune. Lottery tickets are sold at the entrance, fish and birds can be purchased for merit-release, and entrepreneurs have opened shops to sell the usual snacks and drinks.
The irony of this newfound visitor attraction isn't lost on everyone, especially the local fishermen and farmers who have watched their means of earning a living recede with the water. According to Reuters, the dam originally helped irrigate 1.3 million acres of farmland. That's now down to just 3,000 acres after the long drought.