Thursday, April 19, 2007

Prasat Hin Phimai : Nakhon Ratchasima

The Phimai Historical Park Dotted about Thailand’s great northeastern plateau are numerous temples of varying sizes; most of these structures are believed to be about a thousand years old.

These building-built of brick, stone, or combinations of the two material-are of two types: those built by persons of Brahmanic culture, these have three to five-storied bases surmounted by prominent spires; those constructed by Buddhist patronages, have a low base an their spires are not so tall. The most spectacular of them all is at Phimai, 60 kms. Northeast of Nakhon Ratchasima.

Prasat Hin Phimai which is the charmingly amusing largest sandstone sanctuary in Thailand almost situated in the center of Phimai Ancient city which carries a rectangular shape of 665 meters wide and 1,030 meters long. Nowadays, the Sanctuary looks magnificiently restored and renovated.

The ruins of the facinating ancient Khmer architecture has been preserved as the National Historical Park. The monument itself is surrounded with two red sandstone walls; the external wall and the gallery. These are punetuated by gatetowers (Gopuras) at four cardinal points, North, South, East and West.

The main entrance is decorated with Naga balustrade which faces to the south where there are ancient routes cut from Angkor. The main white sandstone Prang has its place in the middle, towers of 28 meters in height, and flanked by two minor buildings, of the left was built in laterite called "Prang Bhramadhat" and on the right was built in sandstone

called "Prang Hin Daeng". Evidences of the main sanctuary reveal that all the external lintels including pediments involve Hinduism, such as the carvings of Ramayana Story, Figures of Hindu Gods like Shiva and Vishnu whereas the internal lintels involve typically masterful religious art of Mahayana Buddhism.

Though, it can be concluded that Phimai Sanctuary way built for the worship of both Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism: one of the internal lintels represents Trilokayavichaya Buddhism who standing on Hindo Gods, Shiva and his wife, seems to mean that Buddhism becomes more significant than Hinduism.

Two stone inscriptions encountered, the first mentions the name of King suriyavoraman I (1002-1050) while the second at the door frame of the Southen gallery describing the name of King Dharanidharavoraman I (1107-1113).

These inscriptions of different periods also coinsides with the characteristics of the artifacts found inside the main prang, therefore, the well-restored ruins of Phimai Sanctuary may have been built in between late 11th mid 12th centuries. The Phimai Historical Park opens everday from 7.30-18.00 hrs. Admission fee is 20 Baht per person.

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