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Khon Kaen (ขอนแก่น)

Thai. ‘Core (or heart) of the tree-stump’. A university town and large provincial capital (fig.) in the heart of Isaan, 449 km from Bangkok. With a population of around 130,000 inhabitants it is the fourth largest city in Thailand. The city and province name are the same and were derived from the Sanskrit-Thai name ‘That (ma-)Khaam Phanom’, ‘hill of the tamarind relic’, the name of a relic shrine that was built earlier in the area over the dead stub of a tamarind tree, that miraculously came to life after a group of travelling monks spent the night there with a relic of the Buddha. Later a chedi was built covering the initial shrine and it was named Phrathat Kham Kaen. Although the area has been inhabited by communities for as far back as 5,000 years, the province's first town was established much later and moved sites several times until, near the end of the 19th century AD, it reached its present-day location on the North side of Kaen Nakhon Lake (map - fig.). The province's places of interest include an ancient Khmer temple situated on the border with Maha Sarakham province and known as Prasat Puey Noi or Ku Puey Noi, and locally called That Ku Thong, a modern city gate (map - fig.) and the Golden Jubilee Convention Hall (map - fig.). This province (map) has twenty amphur and five king amphur, 198 tambon and 2,139 villages or mu ban. The provincial flower is that of the golden shower (fig.), a kind of yellow cassia tree in Thai known as rachaphreuk, while the provincial tree is the pink shower tree, a kind of pink cassia (fig.), in Thai known as chaiyaphreuk. See also Khon Kaen data file. See MAP.