Prang Phakho Khmer Ruin

Casual travelers probably won’t be too impressed by the modest remains of Prang Phakho (ปรางศ์พะโค), but it has some unusual features that Khmer enthusiasts will definitely want to see. Built in the 11th century, it presently consists of just two buildings: an east-facing central prang and one bannalai in front. However, the ruins showed there was a second bannalai across from the surviving one, and since three lotus-bud tops were found, there probably were (or were going to be) triple towers, meaning the site was likely much larger than its present appearance suggests.

both buildings at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
three lotus-bud tops at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin with moat in background
This photo of the three lotus-bud tops was taken in August 2013.

While most of the bricks and sandstone building blocks were long ago taken away, presumably to be used to make new buildings, there was not wholesale looting of the art (a combination of Khleang and Baphuon styles) and a lot of sculpture was recovered. The best of it, including a pair of guardian lions and two apsara carved into door frames (Prasat Sikhoraphum in Surin and Prang Phako are the only Khmer sites in Thailand where apsara have been found – Angkor Wat in Cambodia has about 1,700 of them.) were taken away for safekeeping at the Phimai National Museum and Maha Viravong National Museum, though plenty of pieces have been left behind. The only in situ lintel is on the front of the bannalai. Many sections of it are damaged, but the kala eating a singha lion (a very rare subject in Khmer art) is in excellent condition.

lintel of kala eating singha at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

Although a rather large yoni was found here (no Shiva linga was recovered) there are Vishnu carvings too and it has been theorized that this could have been a Vaisnavite temple.

yoni and door frames on main prang building at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

Both of the buildings (now linked by a modern brick walkway) sit on laterite bases and neither has any wall left, though there are still door and window frames giving the buildings some shape. They each have a single entrance with false doors on the other three sides.

The bannalai is turned to the south rather than facing the prang directly as is the norm for bannalais. All four of its doorframes are mostly intact and so is the floral skirting around it.

library at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
front view of library at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
north false door at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
floral patterned skirting on library at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
west false door at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
east false door at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

The main prang is less complete than the bannalai, with the only noteworthy carvings being the colonettes and floral center panel of the north false door. The yoni sits in the middle, though it may or may not have been kept here in the Khmer era.

main prang buidling at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
entrance of main prang building at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
north false door of main prang building at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

Other than the bannalai‘s lintel, the most significant stonework are pieces of pediments, some of which were done in an unusual two-layer style (see the first picture below this paragraph) with what could be called a recessed lintel section surrounded by the pediment proper. The three lotus-bud tops, almost completely unbroken (which makes you wonder if this temple was left incomplete and they were never installed.), have since been removed from the site; an unfortunate, though surely wise decision. To the north, one large block hidden under a tree is used as a shrine for making offerings to the local spirits.

recessed pediment at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
shrine at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
round carving at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin
part of a pediment at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

All of this excess material not unable to be used in the restoration is lined up against the moat, which still exists on all three sides, though the highway in front chopped off the east ends.

lotus-filled moat at Prang Phakho Khmer ruin

Location – Ban Phakho, Tambon Tha Lat Khao, Amphoe Chok Chai, Nakhon Ratchasima Province
Other Names – Prang Ban Phakho (ปรางศ์บ้านพะโค), Prasat Phakho (ปราสาทพะโค)

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3 thoughts on “Prang Phakho Khmer Ruin

  1. Hello: can you give me some directions on how to go there from korat by public transport…bus, songthaew etc? Thanks Blake

    Amazing pics!!

      1. Hi Tim, I love khmer ruins too. I’m trying to catch up now things are opening up. Want to do as much as I can while it possible to travel. Your material is super good…great pictures and information…thanks…

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