The Damned Story: The Litchfield Hills are among the most scenic regions of Connecticut—rolling forests and winding rivers, quaint towns and covered bridges, iconic New England farmhouses and colorful Buddhist temples . . . .
That's right, tucked away along Route 109 in tiny, bucolic Morris is Lao Buddha Ariyamett Aram Temple (also known as the Lao Buddha Ariyamedtaram Temple). Set on well-manicured grounds, the temple is a place of worship primarily for Laotian Buddhists, who come from all across the state to attend services here.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of information available about the temple and the grounds—well, in English, anyway. From one article we found on a Litchfield County real estate blog, it appears that the temple was built in 2002, and many of those associated with it primarily speak Laotian. Services and special events are celebrated here on a somewhat regular basis, while the grounds are open to all.
Others have told us that there's one monk in residence who is responsible for maintaining the property as well as for creating many of the amazing artworks on display here.
In addition to the main temple, which is a work of art in its own right, there are a few structures for outdoor worship as well as a number of amazing hand-carved statues and other religious icons all around the property.
It's a beautiful, peaceful location, ideal for quiet reflection and meditation.
Our Damned Experience: We visited the Lao Buddha Ariyemett Aram Temple on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September 2014. The front gates were open and there was no one around, so we simply drove in, parked the car and respectfully wandered the grounds.
As mentioned above, there are colorful statues at every turn, each one more eye-catching than the next.
Admittedly, our knowledge of Buddhism is lacking (at best), but it's not really required to appreciate what has been lovingly fashioned here.
Set in the middle of the property is a dazzling shrine, where we assume key parts of the worship happens. As you can see, the carving is amazing, and it's brilliantly painted.
The shrine itself was locked on our visit, but we were able to go up to the window for a peek. Inside, there's a large statue of Buddha resplendent on an ornate altar.
You can't really see it in the photo above, but to the bottom right is a sign that says "No women beyond this point." In the Laotion Buddhist tradition, women are not allowed to become monks, and in fact, are only believed to be able to attain nirvana after being reborn as a man.
On the day we went, we didn't encounter any monks—actually, we didn't see anyone at all, so we can't comment on the religious services that go on here. We did however, find this video of the temple's 11th anniversary celebration from September 2013, which gives you a nice idea of the people who worhip here as well as the lay of the land.
As you can see, this spectacular religious spot is not like anything else on the traditionally conservative Puritan-influenced Connecticut landscape.
If You Go: The Lao Buddha Ariyamett Aram Temple is located at 140 East St. (Route 109) in Morris. The gates are usually open during daylight hours.
We tried a few times to call a number we found for the temple, but the person who answered spoke very little English. They acknowledged that it was the temple, yet could not answer any specific questions, such as about times for worship. We suppose if you speak Laotian, you may be able to find out more.
As we indicated, the grounds appear to be open to the public on most days. As always, we recommend that if you do visit, please be respectful of the religious items and statues on the grounds, and those who worship here.