Location : Prakhonchai District
Phanom Rung Historical Park
This is a grand and majestic Khmer site over a thousand years old. Built on an extinct volcano,
it is originally a Hindu religious site and later became a Buddhist one.
During the 15th-18th Buddhist century, several additions were made.
The first thing visitors see when they arrive at the site is the grand stairway from
the foot of the hill up to the top. Most of the buildings of the sanctuary are made
of laterite and sandstone, all with elaborate designs. The buildings are lined all
the way to the main pagoda. This layout is according to Hindu belief of the layout
of the heaven of the god Shiva.The main pagoda is a large one with a square base
and facing east. The designs on the pagoda, columns, doorway, and lintels are exquisite,
most telling a story of gods in Hinduism. From these designs and the architecture,
it is surmised that the pagoda, the stairway and the Naga bridge were built during
the 17th Buddhist century. Each building has descriptive designs telling people
the purpose for its construction, its usefulness and the beliefs of ancient people.
How to get there
The sanctuary is 64 kilometres to the south of Buriram Town
By Bus :
- From Nakhon Ratchasima can take the Nakhon Ratchasima - Surin bus
and get off at Ban Tako (124 kilometres from Nakhon Ratchasima).
- From Ban Tako, a motorcycle service is available to take visitors to the site (fare according to agreement).
There is an accommodation near the site.
By Car :
- From Nang Rong to Prakhon Chai (Highway No. 24) and upon reaching Ban Tako,
there is a 12-kilometer road to Phanom Rung.
- From Prakhon Chai, there is a road from there to the sanctuary with a distance
of 21 kilometres. This route passes a branch road into Muang Tam sanctuary.
Place of Interest
After the three-leveled lower stairway, the visitor finds himself/herself on the
first cruciform platform with a first peek at the main temple. On the right, northward,
is Phlab Phla or the White Elephant House. The pavilion is believed to be the place where
kings and the royal family would change attire before rituals. Royalty would then enter
the Processional Walkway, one of the most impressive elements of the park. It is 160 meters
long and bordered by seventy sandstone posts with tops of lotus buds.
The Walkway itself is paved with laterite blocks.
The walkway leads to the first of three Naga bridges. It is borded by seventy sandstone posts
with top of lotus buds, which had been called Nangriang posts. This is a pathway to the sanctuary.
The ancient Khmer called Nangcharan posts. If you put a compass upon it,
you will see that the walkway is correctly laid on the East and the west spindle.
This final terrace leads to the outer gallery. It probably used to be a wooden gallery
with a tiled roof, but only a raised floor of laterite remains. After the outer gallery
one reaches the inner gallery, which is divided in long and narrow rooms.
It served as a wall around the principal tower. This last gallery leads to the third
and last naga bridge, another small copy of the first one.
Stairway leading to Main Tower
The Walkway leads to the first of three naga bridges. The five-headed snakes face
all four directions and are from the 12th century. This bridge represents the connection
between heaven and earth. The naga bridge leads to the upper stairway, which is divided
into five sets. Each set has terraces on the sides. The last terrace is wide, made with
laterite blocks. It has a cruciform shape and four small pools. A couple more steps lead
to the second naga bridge. It has the same shape as the first one, only smaller.
In the middle the remains of an eight petalled lotus carving can be seen.
Bridge to Main Tower
The bridge leads you directly into the main sanctuary. After the antechamber
and the annex, one reaches the principal tower. Double porches lead out in all directions.
The inner sanctum used to have the "linga", the divine symbol of Shiva. Currently,
only the "somasutra" remains which was used to drain water during religious rites.
The entrances have various lintels and icons depicting Hindu religious stories, e.g.
the dancing Shiva and the five Yogi's. The southern entrance is guarded by a sandstone statue.
Two brick sanctuaries built around the 10th century, northeast of the tower.
The minor sanctuary southwest of the tower with a sandstone altar for a sacred image.
It was built with sandstone in the 11th century. Prang Noi has only one entrance facing east.
The sanctuary is square with indented corners, giving it a round feel.
Two Bannalai southeast and northeast of the principal tower. The buildings are rectangular
and have only one entrance. They were built in the last period, around the 13th century,
and used as a library for holy scriptures.