Phimai Historical Park
The temple shrine, one of the few in Thailand to be fenced in and to be open only at fixed times as safeguards against pillaging, dates from the 11th/12th c. and was dedicated to Hindu gods and to Buddha.The temple site was constructed on the foundation walls of a very much older shrine. The appearance of this shrine remains unknown, as do its commissioners. The town and the shrine gained their names from the Buddha Vimaya. Next to the town's council building, only a few feet from the south gate, the remains of Khlang Ngoen can be seen. This pavilion was probably built during the reign of King Jayavarman (c. 1200) and may well have been a royal inn or a hospital for the citizens of the town (sandstone blocks, used to crush herbs for medicinal purposes, were found here).The temple site is entered through the well-maintained south gate in the second encircling wall. The outer courtyard was embellished at all four corners by large ponds; only ruins remain of their stone walls. They symbolized India's four holy rivers and contained rainwater, used to pour on the lingams (phallic symbols of the Hindu god Shiva) and other holy figures.The two buildings constructed from laterite and sandstone close to the west gate were also built at the time of King Jayavarman VII and probably served as a library or provided accommodation for the Khmer kings. Remains of a terrace, on which a wooden building certainly once stood, can be seen on the right of the south gate. Some of the stone reliefs, no longer safe to be left in their original positions because of the danger of collapse, are displayed on it.The 12th c. gallery's four gates, which point in all four directions of the compass, were laid out in the shape of a cross and stood, as did the porticos, on strong square pillars, which partially remain. On the left of the 5504 sq. m (59,245 sq. ft) inner courtyard stands prang Hin Daeng, built from red sandstone, a little further on a building (probably a treasure chamber or a library) designated as a Hindu shrine, and on the right Prang Meru Boromathat, constructed from laterite. An extraordinarily beautiful statue of King Jayavarman VII found in this prang is now displayed in Bangkok's National Museum.
Opening hours: 9am-4:30pm
Entrance fee in THB: Adult 40.00
Phimai Historical Park Highlights
The main shrine is crowned with a marvelous, richly articulated prang and has stepped porticos with elaborately sculptured superstructures and side doors on all four sides. The southern portico is joined to a long porch, lit internally by door openings on the sides and by a window with stone balustrades in the main entrance. A row of lotus buds adorns the roof.Together with Angkor Wat, this complex, built from fine gray sandstone either at the end of the 11th c. or the beginning of the 12th c. by King Jayavarman VII and King Dharaindravarman I, constitutes the most beautiful example of Khmer architecture, exquisite in its proportions, moderate, but highly artistic in its ornamentation. The sanctuary's pyramid-shaped tower, crowned with a lotus bud, is borne by garudas and is covered with nagas as well as figures of gods and demons. The lintels (including those in the interior) are of high artistic quality and beauty, as are the tympanums on the porch and the prang. They depict scenes from the history of the Khmer empire and portraits of Buddha and the saints from Mahayana Buddhism. Nearby there are scenes from the Ramayana epos. Five-headed nagas border the tympanums on both sides; the ledges on the base and the pillars on the two sides are decorated with bas-reliefs.
The tower once held the temple complex's most important statue of Buddha. This and other holy figures were sprinkled by priests during ceremonies, in which the town's population participated, with rainwater from the four ponds in the outer courtyard. The opening of the water pipe and the metal part underneath are still visible on the east side of the tower.Remains of Wat Doem's encircling wall can be seen near the collapsed north gate in the outer courtyard. This also stood on the foundations of an earlier shrine.