By: Lara Gallacher & Erica Houck
Why is it an important place to visit?
Khmer refers to an ancient kingdom in Southeastern Asia which, was in it’s highest power during the 11th century. Phanom-Rung is one of the most beautiful and important of the Khmer historic areas in the country of Thailand. It may have been a prototype for another significant site called Angkor Wat. The location enough provides a reason to visit as Phanom-Rung was built on top of a 1256 foot tall inactive volcano. Similarly, it has a historical importance as the resting area for pilgrims traveling from Angkor to Phimai. This Hindu temple complex represents the largest and most comprehensively restored historical park. The structures in Phanom-Rung have been well preserved by avoiding use as a battlefield and by limited overgrowth of that area. Other Khmer monuments have been largely reclaimed by the jungle but this park is neatly groomed and protected from environmental reclamation.
Significance of various parts of the park:
There are several areas of the park that are especially important as religious, historical and architectural artifacts. The general layout of the park represents Hindu beliefs. The buildings line up all the way to the main pagoda, which represents the layout of Hindu heaven centered on Shiva. Also important historically and architecturally, are the religious carvings found on the outer surfaces of every building. These most frequently depict stories of the gods. It also has Buddhist elements from the era when it was adapted. Buddhist influences are visible in the later 17th century additions to the park including the pagoda, the stairway and the Naga bridge.
The Main Sanctuary:
In the main sanctuary at Phanom-Rung, the most sacred religious object (Shiva Lingam), was likely enshrined at the tower’s center. The artifact has long disappeared but the water conduit where water was poured over the lingam is still present. The intricate carvings and Hindu figurines make this place very significant because they are highly preserved.
Here sacred religious texts were stored. The important part of these towers, especially the main one, are the lintels and gables. These are intricately carved with reliefs of episodes from Hindu legends. They depict dancing Shiva, reclining Vishnu, and manifestations of Vishnu in the form of Rama. There are also carvings that depict various religious ceremonies and daily activities. Since the carvings are a very prominent feature of Phanom-Rung, several found throughout the site are displayed below.
History of Phanom-Rung:
Located in Ban Khol Ta Phi, Thailand, Phanom-Rung is the largest and greatest restoredtemple in Thailand. The temple Phanom-Rung was said to be built between the 10th and the 13th centuries. It was built facing the rising of the sun, like most Hindu temples and monuments. King Surlyararman II ruled over the area during most of the temples construction. It was said to be built facing the east in the direction of not only the sunrise but also the original Angkor capitol. The temple sits on top of the Phanom-Rung Hill. The King Surlyararman II built the Phanon- Rung Temple as a religious sanctuary dedicated to the god Shiva. Shiva is thought by many to be the supreme god and has been referred to as the “Destroyer”. In 1935 the Phanom-Rung temple was announced as a n archeological site. By the early 1960’s the temple had been studied and was placed under reconstruction. After the restoration or the temple was complete it was opened to the public in May 1988.
Location and Geography:
The Phanom-Rung temple is located about 120 km (75 miles) from the city of Korat in Thailand. There are two other sanctuaries located around the Phanom-Rung temple, the Phimai and the Muang Tam temples. All three temples have characteristics and features of the Cambodia and Khmer culture. The Phanom-Rung temple sits about 70 stories high on the Phanom-Rung Hill, to the southeast of the temple are the Camodia’s Dongrek Mountains. This historical site should be an incredible and miraculous site for us to visit in Thailand.