Phanom Rung Historical Park is located at Chaloem Phra Kiat District, Buriram Province in the Isan region of Thailand. This Historical Park is located in southern Buriram province, some 50 kilometres north of the Cambodian border and 350 kilometers from the center of Bangkok. Thai people called Prasat Hin Phanom Rung that means Phanom Rung Stone Castle as a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva (Hindu God). This castle is a Khmer temple complex and the most famous Khmer Art in Thailand. If you would like to see something worth to visiting, amazing and impressive, You have to go there.
Nowadays, Phanom Rung Historical Park has been submitted to Unesco’s for consideration as a future World Heritage site.
History of Phanom Rung Stone Castle
Phanom Rung is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple is one of Thailand’s most amazing Khmer architecture site. Phanom Rung was constructed on an extinct volcano or on top of Phanom Rung hill which symbolizes Mount Kailash which is a holy mountain in Hinduism, the Indian heavenly residence of Shiva. The hill rises over 383 meters above sea level.
The Stone Castle was bulid in Angkor style by Narendraditya, a descendant of the Mahidharapura dynasty related to King Suryavarman II, the creator of Angkor Wat during the 10th until 13th century A.D. as part of the large Angkor Empire.
The Fine Arts Department spent 17 years between 1971 to 1988 for restoring the major complex to its original. On 21 May 1988, the park was officially opened by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
The meanings of Phanom Rung
The word ‘Phanom Rung’ from Khmer language ‘Wa-Nam-Rung’ which means big mountain. Khmer language has been influenced considerably by Sanskrit and Pali, especiallt in the royal and religious through Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Structures in The Historical Park
Most of the sanctuary buildings are made of laterite and sandstone, all with elaborate designs. When you arrival you will see the grand stairway from the foot of the hill up to the top. The main building is 23 meters tall, 9.5 meters wide and made of pink sandstone and laterite.
The next thing from the grand stairway is Naga Bridges which is a walkway for leading to the santuary approximate one hundreds meters long. There are also three Naga bridges which is symbolize the passing way from humans world in to the world of Gods. These Nagas have multiple flaring heads, the Nagas as guardians of the earth water’s and represent the rainbow. The first Naga bridge at the end of the causeway that was built by sandstone measuring 8.2 meters wide, 20 meters long and raised up 1.5 meters. This Naga bridge connect between the causeway, the upper stairway and the sacred pond.
At the both side of platform, there are wing-shape stairs and the back side is a patio connecting tto the upper stairway. The Naga bridge platform’s is supported by exquisitely carved sandstone pillars and the balustrades of the terrace are in the form of Naga bodies with five-headed Naga that was crowned and arched up at the corner. The Naga crown’s was carved in the horizontal floral design of Angkor Wat style. The left exit of the Naga Bridge is a path to the sacred pond that was constructed by compressed soil with laterite edge on both sides.
In addition to, There are also two more Naga bridges. One is at the eastern gateway and the last Naga bridge connects the eastern entrance to the Main Sanctuary. Two is connects the eastern entrance to the eastern door way of the antechamber of the Main Sanctuary.
In religious place construction methodology a Naga bridge has more symbolic implication. Hinduism, Rainbow is the bridge connecting between human world and the world of Gods that similar to Naga bridge. In the legend is sometimes mentioned have two Naga that make normal to have two rainbows at the same time. The rainbow can be associated to a Naga who is raising up to the sky or drinking from the sea.
Hilights of Phanom Rung Historical Park is the main sanctuary or the central sanctuary which is the most important and beautiful structure of Phanom Rung temple and this place is set on a square shape measuring 8.2 meters wide, 27 meters tall and plain platform carved with lotus-petal and diamond designs. The main sanctuary has 5 tiers and the architectural element of the temple is consisted of 3 parts (the base, the inner sanctum or the Gerbhagrha, the superstructure and its roof). On the sides and at the corners of each tier there are carvings on pediments and antifixes of the guardians of the Cardinal directions,relief of Nagas, Female deities, Rishis, Hermits and Goddesses. In addition to, It has a double porch in the north, south and west.
The main sanctuary of Phanom Rung Historical Park is surrounded by two galleries, inner, outer courtyard and all adjacent elements have their doorways in the same line. All the gateways in the temple may not be able to use as entrance. Inside of the eastern gateway of the main sanctuary, there are holes used to install the sculpture. From the size of the holes, it is believed that the sculpture is quite massive and it should block this entrance.
The most important room of the main sanctuary is the inner sanctum or the Garbhagrha that used to enshrine the structure of the religious place. The northern entrance has a sandstone drainage channel used to drain away sacred water during religious functions.
The roof of the antechamber and all porches has a corbel arch roof, the ceiling is made of carved and painted wood and the red ceiling was referred to one of the inscription found at Phanom Rung temple as the represent to Gods.
The most famous lintel that ever lost of Thailand
Lintel and Pediment Depicting Ramayana Legend is one of the scripture in Hinduism. The most significant lintel is The Phra Narai Lintel, one of the most well known lintel. The Phra Narai Lintel is one of elements of the temple that placed above the eastern entrance to the Central sanctuary.
This lintel depicts a reclining Vishnu Anantasayin which is known in Thai as Thap Lang Narai Banthomsin. On this lintel has Lakshmi (Vishnu consort) who is seated at Vishnu feet, he rests in meditative sleep on a serpent known as Ananta on the ocean of milk waiting for Brahma to recreate the cosmos. Brahma would be responsible for the re-creation of the world and he is seated on lotus which is springs forth from Vishnu navel.
The lintel is best known for its restitution from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1988. It had been stolen from the temple site in the 1960s and in 1967 was acquired by the museum, where it was displayed for over twenty years. In early 1988, as restoration of the temple neared completion, calls were made by several parties in Thailand for its return. The lintel became the subject of intense media attention. Finally, in October, the museum agreed to repatriate the lintel in exchange for a donation from the Chicago-based Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. On 10 November, The lintel’s arrival in Thailand. It was restored to its original position on 7 December, marking the completion of the temple’s restoration.
The attraction of The Historical Park
The attraction of this Historical Park is Phanom Rung festival. In every year at April 13th or Thai Replubic Holidays ‘Songkarn Festival’ on this day as the plane of the ecliptic is aligned with the axis of the temple. This date falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon of the fifth lunar month or in April of every year.
Many visitors come to the Historical Park for see the sun’s ray shine pass through all of the fifteen portals which is the doos and rooms of the temple. The rays of the sun shine from the east gopura to the west gopura that is the beautiful and mystical picture more than your imagination. Local people believes the sun’s rays in the morning at 13th of April are purest and most intense that can burning evil things to ashes.
On this day, Buri Ram community leaders would organize this festival or ‘Phanom Rung Festival’ to provide an opportunity to pay homage to the sanctuary. Phanom Rung festival have many traditional ceremonies are a parade to honor the Gods, traditional dance performances to pay homage to the Gods, a folk musical performance and including a sound and light performance as well as fireworks dedicated to the Gods.
When is Phanom Rung Historical Park open?
Phanom Rung Historical Park is open everyday from 6 am until 6 pm.
Best time to visit is a weekday and arrive before 10 am because The Historical Park is a well visited complex. Especially on Thai plubic holidays.
Admission fee for entrance to Historical Park : One day is 100 Baht per person and 150 Baht per person for 30 days package at Phanom Rung Historical Park and Mueang Tam Stone Sanctury.
Note : There are informational signs all over the site in both Thai and English explaining about the function of the structures.