Phanomrung Historical Park [Chalerm Phra Khiat, Buriram]
Phanom Rung Sanctuary or Prasat Phanom Rung is a spectacular Khmer ancient sanctuary situated on Phanom Rung Massif. It is also one of the most significant archeological sites in Thailand due to its location, landscape, and phenomenon of sunsets and sunrises through 15 porches which occurs four times annually. The sanctuary pagodas are on the top of Phanom Rung Massif (an extinct volcano) in Ta Pek Sub-District, Chalerm Prakiat District, Buriram. It was constructed as a religious site in Shiva Hinduism, so Phanom Rung Mountain could be compared as Mount Kailas the heavenly dwelling of God Shiva in this regard.
The first thing visitors see when they arrive at the site is the grand stairway from the foot of the hill up to the top. Most of the buildings of the sanctuary were made of laterite and sandstone, all with elaborate designs. The buildings are lined all the way to the main pagoda which faces the east. This layout is according to Hindu belief of the layout of the heaven of the god Shiva. On the right of the stairway is the preparation hall for the king before attending the ceremony or sanctity worship.After that, the walkway with 34 columns in lotus bud shape called Sao Nang Riang on each side leads to the five-headed Naga Bridge representing the connection between heaven and earth. An interesting thing to be noticed at the middle of the bridge is the eight-petalled lotus carving which might symbolize the Hindu Gods of directions or the talisman for worship or the point where worshippers made wishes.
The Naga Bridge leads to the upper stairway, which is divided into five sets. Each set has terraces on the sides. The last terrace is wide, made with laterite blocks. It has a cruciform shape and four small pools. A couple more steps lead to the second naga bridge. This final terrace leads to the outer gallery. It probably used to be a wooden gallery with a tiled roof, but only a raised floor of laterite remains. After the outer gallery one reaches the inner gallery, which is divided in long and narrow rooms. It served as a wall around the principal pagoda. This last gallery leads to the third and last naga bridge, another small copy of the first one. At the gable of the east gallery is the carving of hermit which represents Shiva in doctor episode and might also include King Narendratit, the contributor of the sanctuary. The bridge leads you directly into the main sanctuary.
Phanom Rung Sanctuary was constructed of pink sandstone in the rectangular layout. In the front is the mondop or antechamber connected to the principle pagoda by Antrala or the annex. Double porches lead out in all directions to the main tower. The middle inner sanctum is called "Kanpakaruha Chamber" where "linga", the divine symbol of Shiva, is believed to be enshrined. Currently, only the "somasutra" remains which was used to drain water during religious rites.
Two brick pagodas and the minor pagoda compound in the northeast and southwest of the principal pagoda. From architectural and fine arts evidence, these three pagodas were built around the 15th – 16th Buddhist century consecutively. There are also two laterite Bannalais, a repository or library for storing sacred Hindu manuscripts, in the northeast and southwest front of the principal pagoda.
There are carvings depicting about Hinduism at the gables and lintels of the principal pagoda such as the dancing Shiva, Vishnu Anantasayin, the reincarnation of Vishnu as Rama in Ramayana or Krishna, ceremonies, hermit or yogi life, etc.
Vishnu Anantasayin is on the lintel of the mondop east of the principal pagoda. The Vishnu Anantasayin posture shows Vishnu right-declining on the Naga Ananta on the Ocean of Milk with Laksmi, the goddess of beauty and the consort of Vishnu at his feet. You can also see Brahma, the God Creator, arising from Vishnu's navel. This famous lintel disappeared from the site and was later found in Chicago Museum, USA. Then, it was returned to Phanom Rung Historical Park and reinstalled in 1988.
The annual tentative schedule for viewing the phenomenon of sunsets and sunrises through 15 porches at Phanom Rung Historical Park
• 1st – Sunset on March 4-6 at ~17.58
• 2nd – Sunrise on April 1-5 at ~05.56
• 3rd – Sunrise on September 8-10 at ~05.58
• 4th – Sunset on October 5-8 at ~17.53
Note The date and time of this natural phenomenon can be changed due to the seasons.
~ Thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) ~
Major annual festival at Phanom Rung Historical Park
Phanom Rung Festival is held annually during April 3rd – 5th at Phanom Rung Historical Park, Chalerm Prakiat District, Buriram providing the following outstanding activities.
• The phenomenon of sunlight through 15 porches (Sunrise – April 3-5 at 6 am)
• The ceremony of sanctity worship inside the sanctuary which was built to worship Shiva, the highest god in Shiva Hinduism.
• The show of the royal procession of Pupatindra Laksmi Consort and Jariya. The sacrifice includes 10 Deva vehicles, maids of honor, soldiers and retinues proceeding past Sao Nang Riang, the columns, elegantly decorated with lanterns and flags.
- "The Festival of Beautiful Mountain & The Night of Phanom Rung" (the light & sound show)
- The local performance arts with Hopbai Dinner
- The old-fashion fair and Buriram local products
- And other several activities throughout the festival
Or you may take a brief moment watching Phanom Rung Historical Park via this video clip.
~ Thanks to SpringnewsTV for it ~
Direction to Phanomrung Temple: Proceed from Nang Rong to Prakhon Chai/Surin for 14 kilometers (Highway No. 24) and upon reaching Ban Tako Junction, turn right onto Highway No. 2117 and proceed for 6 kilometers. When reaching Ban Ta Pek Junction, turn left onto Highway No. 2221 another 6 kilometers to Phanom Rung Historical Park.