Khmer Ruins

Phimai Khmer City Gates, Moat, and Barays

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wooden house and western gate

Many people visiting the amazing Prasat Phimai temple are unaware that in its day it stood at the heart of a large important city. Lying on the Mun River and along overland trade routes to the north and south, as well as having abundant salt deposits (there are none near Angkor), Phimai city prospered on trade during its time in the Khmer empire. And many remnants of the town infrastructure… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Kuti Ruesi Noi Khmer Ruin

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main sanctuary

Kuti Ruesi Noi (กุฏิฤาษีน้อย), just 450m south of the southern city gate, was the temple for one of the 102 arogayasala (hospitals) that King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) had built around the empire. It follows the standard arogayasala design in most regards. It faces roughly to the east, in line with Phimai temple and town. It’s quite incomplete – none of the walls are tall and some are gone entirely… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Noen Wat Khok Khmer Ruin

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laterite wall and line of laterite

Noen Wat Khok (เนินวัดโคก) was a small temple in its day, but it was likely quite an important one. Like West Mebon in the Angkor region, Noen Wat Khok sat prominently on an island in the middle of a massive baray. Now almost entirely silted in and used mostly for agriculture (though it’s still clearly recognizable when seen from above), the old Phimai Baray stretches 750m by 1800m, the biggest… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Tha Nang Sra Phom Khmer Pier

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view of the pier from across the river

Just over a kilometer south of Phimai city’s southern gate and directly centered along the axis of the temple and town, Tha Nang Sra Phom (ท่านางสระผม) is the only preserved Khmer-era boat landing known in Thailand. Likely built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219), it’s a simple cruciform platform made entirely of laterite with very steep stairs on three of the sides. When it was excavated the archaeologists found post… Read More

Khmer Ruins

San Pu-Ta Ban Wang Hin Khmer Ruin

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small forested hill

Less than 100m from the south shore of the old Phimai Baray, San Pu-Ta Ban Wang Hin (ศาลปู่ตา บ้านวังหิน) is lined up with the Prasat Phimai’s soaring prang, 3.6km away, instead of being lined up with the baray, suggesting it may have once been an important temple. It’s age and purpose are unknown and nothing ancient – no pottery shards, bricks, or building blocks – is visible now. The few… Read More

History

Meru Brahmathat

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ruined brick stupa on a hill seen from below

Just two hundred meters away from the entrance to Prasat Phimai, but unrelated to it or the Khmer empire in any way, Meru Brahmathat (เมรุพรหมทัต) is a toppled brick stupa from the 18th century (late Ayutthaya era). It sits atop a man-made hill and including this it’s about thirty meters tall now; though it was clearly much bigger when built. While not in very good condition, it does present a… Read More

Folktales

The Legend of Nang Oraphim and Thao Pajit

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two statues of torsos in Phimai National Museum

The classic love story between Nang Oraphim (นางอรพิม) and Thao Pajit (ท้าวปาจิต) is a widely known Thai folktale (some even consider it a non-canonical Jataka tale) with many different versions. The story as told in Khorat province is based on the town of Phimai where locals have declared the ruined Meru Brahmathat stupa as the cremation site of the villainous King Brahmathat. Some locals take the story one step further… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Kam Photo Essay

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two monks walking in and out of ubosot

These photos are from the Boon Khao Kam (บุญเข้ากรรม) ceremony at Ban Khok Nong Waeng, Amphoe Non Daeng, Nakhon Ratchasima Province between November 29 and December 10, 2019. Thanks to everyone there, especially Phra Khru O-Pat, Phra Bunserm, Phra Apichat, Mae Wanni, and Mae Un, for being so helpful and welcoming me at the temple for ten days. For more information, there’s an explanation of Boon Khao Kam and an… Read More

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Khmer Ruins

Prang Phon Songkhram Khmer Ruin

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bannalai and gopura

A temple for one of the 102 arogayasala (hospitals) built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219), Prang Phon Songkhram (ปรางค์พลสงคราม) follows the standard design of arogayasala, including being built primarily with laterite, using sandstone only for trim. The only original entrance is through an eastern gopura. It’s cross-shaped with small chambers to the east, south, and north (which still have their roofs) and an uncarved lintel over the outer front… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Khao Hin Tat Ancient Quarry

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algae covered pond with cutting marks visible

Virtually unknown, Khao Hin Tat Ancient Quarry (แหล่งตัดหินเขาหินตัด) lies a kilometer away as the crow flies (by road it’s either two or three kilometers, depending which direction you’re driving due to needing to U-turn on the Mittraphap highway) from the well-known Si Khio Ancient Quarry, and naturally they share similar characteristics and histories. The grey sandstone is of the Phu Phan Formation, which is around 120 million years old. The stone… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Si Khio Ancient Quarry

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sandstone blocks not yet removed

Si Khio Ancient Quarry (แหล่งโบราณหินตัดสีคิ้ว) is in the Phu Phan Formation, which was laid down about 120 million years ago. The sandstone here is grey and rather course but lacks conglomerate, making it good for carving. For unknown reasons, work here stopped abruptly so various stages of the cutting can be seen, from the beginning of carving the grooves to make the blocks to a field where all the stone… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prasat Ban Bu Yai Khmer Ruin

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stone that appears to be part of pediment

Although Prasat Ban Bu Yai (ปราสาทหินบ้านบุใหญ่) lies in total ruin and most significant carvings are gone, when you see the size of the lotus-bud top (several pieces of it are visible in the rubble) you can tell that this was once a large temple. It had a single sandstone tower that can only be said to have been built in the 11th to 13th centuries. There is a second, smaller… Read More

History

Khmer Artifacts in the Maha Viravong National Museum

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hand from statue from Phanom Wan Khmer ruin at Maha Viravong National Museum

Probably the smallest national museum in Thailand, the Maha Viravong National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติมหาวีรวงศ์) occupies one little room on the grounds of Wat Suttha Chinda in central Khorat city, 350 meters south of the Thao Suranari Monument. Most of the artifacts come from the private collection of Somdej Phra Maha Viravong (Oun Tisso), the temple’s former abbot. And since they were generally just given to him by locals, most of the… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Phakho Khmer Ruin

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front view of library at 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… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Sra Pleng Khmer Ruin

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Prang Sra Pleng Khmer ruin

Not much of Prang Sra Pleng (ปรางค์สระเพลง), now sitting in a small grove of trees surrounded by rice paddies, remains standing, though there is just enough to give visitors an impression of how this Khmer ruin used to be. Based mostly on the style of the sandstone doorframe, Prang Sra Pleng appears to have been a Hindu shrine from the 11th or 12th centuries. It’s built mostly of laterite and… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ban Prang Khmer Ruin

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piece of pediment at Prang Ban Prang Khmer ruin

The ruins of Prang Ban Prang (ปรางค์บ้านปรางค์) are in an inconspicuous grove of trees in the middle of a little village. Driving past you’d pay it no mind if it weren’t for the two large signs marking it as a historic site. The temple had a single prang built of sandstone and brick on a laterite base. While most of it lies buried in dirt, many pieces (mostly sandstone, but… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prasat Nong Phak Rai Khmer Ruin

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sandstone statue base at Prasat Nong Phak Rai Khmer ruin

Almost nothing is known about Prasat Nong Phak Rai (ปราสาทหนองผักไร). There’s nothing visible that reveals the history (Perhaps an excavation would shed some light – but not necessarily because holes dug by looters have been reported.) and it isn’t even registered by the Fine Arts Department. Prasat Nong Phak Rai is in a small grove of trees on a low mound amidst rice paddies. It isn’t truly remote, but it… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Phansa Photo Essay

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monk walking on front of a Khao Phansa candle parade float with the Thao Suranari Monument and Chumphon Gate on it

These photos are from the Boon Khao Phansa (บุญเข้าพรรษา) celebration in Khorat city on July 27 and 28, 2018. Most of the parade float-making photos were taken on July 19. Thanks to Ajahn Mai at Wat Nong Bua Rong for answering so many questions. For more information, there’s an explanation of Boon Khao Phansa and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions. Boon Khao Phansa, the first day of the Buddhist… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang Khmer Ruin

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Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang (ปรางค์กู่แก้งสนามนาง) was, and kind of still is, a single laterite tower of unknown age. The original temple toppled completely and there was no attempt at reconstruction. What stands now are laterite and sandstone blocks stacked to make three walls for a Buddha image shrine. It’s now open to the north, but the original almost certainly would have faced east, and there’s a doorway to the… Read More

Khmer Ruins in Thailand

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detail of kala face on lintel at Muang Tam Khmer ruin

This page has links to all my posts about Khmer-era sites in Thailand, from the grand, inspiring monuments of Phimai and Phnom Rung to various small piles of rubble. Besides temple ruins, there are also some sandstone quarries, piers, and rock carvings. Many of these ruins have multiple names; I’ve chosen the one that seems to be most common. Background Information Arogayasala and Dharmasala Buriram Kuti Ruesi Ban Khok Mueang… Read More

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