Two Ancient Khmer Temples
November 18, 2022
Prasat Muang Tam
Prasat Muang Tam (Thai: ปราสาทเมืองต่ำ, pronounced [prāː.sàːt mɯ̄a̯ŋ tàm]; lit. 'lowland castle') is a Khmer Hindu Temple in Prakhon Chai District, Buriram Province, Thailand. It is primarily in the Khleang and Baphuon styles, which dates its primary phases of construction to the late-10th and early-11th centuries. The primary deity was Shiva, although Vishnu was also worshipped there.
Like most Hindu temples, Muang Tam is oriented towards the east. It has a flat concentric plan, with a central sanctuary and two surrounded successively by an inner enclosure, ponds, and an outer enclosure. The ponds between the enclosures are an unusual feature of the temple, as is the central sanctuary, which is not elevated and has its towers arranged in rows of three and two. All the towers except the central one have been restored.
Kala (a form of Shiva) are particularly prominent in the lintels of the temple. They are the best available aid in dating the structure, but the mix of styles (Khleang and Baphuon) makes accurate dating impossible. Several of the lintels on the outer gopuras are unfinished.
A small pond probably contemporaneous with the temple, lies to the east, while a later, larger pond survives further north between Muang Tam and Phanom Rung.
Phanom Rung (Thai: พนมรุ้ง, pronounced [pʰā.nōm rúŋ]), or full name, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung (Thai: ปราสาทหินพนมรุ้ง – Phanom Rung Stone Castle), is a Hindu Khmer Empire Temple complex set on the rim of an extinct volcano at 402 meters (1,319 ft) elevation. It is in Buriram Province in the Isan region of Thailand and was built at a time when Khmer social-political influences were significant in Srisaket.
It was built of sandstone and laterite between the 10th and 13th centuries. It was a Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva, and symbolizes Mount Kailash, his heavenly dwelling.
The Phanom Rung sanctuary compound was constructed over several phases, dated by means of iconography of its art and architectural styles together with its inscriptions. These comprise two foundations of sacred brick buildings of 10th century C.E., the minor sanctuary of 11th century, the central sanctuary built by king Suryavarman II’s relative Narentratitaya in 12th century and two Bannalais (libraries) of the 13th century.
Further sacred buildings built in the reign of King Jayavarman VII in 13th century, including the Royal attire Changing Pavilion, the Kudi Rishis of Nong Bua Ray, the medical center or hospital (Arokayasala) and Prasat Ban Bu, a rest house with fire where travelers could shelter (Dharmasala) on the plain at the foot of Phanom Rung, alongside the road linking Angkor and Phimai. These evidence an important vice-regal center on and around the mountain that flourishes from the 10th to the 13th centuries.
Thailand's Department of Fine Arts spent seventeen years restoring the complex to its original state from 1971 to 1988. On 21 May 1988, the park was officially opened by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
In 2005, the temple was submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a future World Heritage Site.