Written by SeenThat on 13 Jun, 2005
Prasat Phimai is a Mahayana Buddhist temple located in the Phimai District of the Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand. The name originates in the Khmer Vimai, which appears in a carved inscription at the complex gate. The complex is a rectangular one surrounded by a…Read More
Prasat Phimai is a Mahayana Buddhist temple located in the Phimai District of the Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand. The name originates in the Khmer Vimai, which appears in a carved inscription at the complex gate. The complex is a rectangular one surrounded by a boundary wall, and the principal tower at its center is called Prasat Phimai. It has a square base of 22m and an height of 28m. Nearby is the Red Stone tower with a base of 11.5m and a height of 15m.
The place doesn't lack water; the Mun River passes on the northern and eastern sides of the temple, while the Khem stream passes on its southern side and the Chukarat stream passes at its west and later joins the Mun River at the Songkhram. There are three ponds within the walls (Sa Kaew, Sa Phlong, and Sa Khwan) and three outside them (Sa Phleng, Sa Bond, and Sa Phleng Haeng). To the south is a big reservoir.
The main construction period was in the 11th and 12th centuries, but there were additions in the 13th one, the evidence based on the inscriptions found on the carved stones of the temples. Unlike many temples in Thailand, which face the east, Phimai faces southeast in the direction of Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire.
As said, the old town is surrounded by the remains of the old wall, and some parts of it, especially around the central square, were restored. The short street connecting the main temples with the outer wall hosts the guesthouse, hotel, restaurant and a big wat by the wall, with big dogs at its entrance keeping it safe from curious visitants.
The entrance to the main complex costs 40B, and it opens quite early, before 8am, despite the low number of visitors. At the left side from the entrance, there is a big rectangular structure built from big stones and divided into rooms without a roof and ornament. At the right side, there is a small shop with an excellent model of the site. An elevated, stone-made road leads from there to the central temple, which is shaped like the central temple in Angkor Wat but much smaller, without the richness of the original and without sculpted walls. Around it there are very few and very small surrounding structures. Yet, it is impressive and complimentary to a visit to Angkor Wat, or even exchanges such a visit if you lack the time or means for it.
Twenty minutes by bike north from the old town, the Saingam village hosts the biggest clusters of Banyan trees in Thailand, which are locally known as Sai Yoi (sweeping Banyans). The massive clusters cover a whole island in the Mun River just beyond a charming…Read More
Twenty minutes by bike north from the old town, the Saingam village hosts the biggest clusters of Banyan trees in Thailand, which are locally known as Sai Yoi (sweeping Banyans). The massive clusters cover a whole island in the Mun River just beyond a charming little village, with an interesting temple hosting the area's crematorium. When Queen Sri Phatcharinthara visited the place in 1911, she changed the name of the place to Sai Ngarm (the "r" is not pronounced), which means "Area of the Splendid Banyans."
The Banyan is the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment, and thus it is considered sacred to the Thais. The older the tree, the more worshipped it is. Its most visible characteristics are the roots hanging from the branches that, once they reach the ground, grow up to a new trunk, allowing the tree to expand. This specific tree is 350 years old and has covered a full, small island in the local river. Its central and original trunk, placed along the riverside closest to Phimai, among hundreds of other trunks, is wrapped with colored clothes, a typical Buddhist practice towards old and revered trees. Not far from the central trunk there is a small shrine constantly used by the pilgrims. A narrow way advances among the trunks, with benches carefully located at its sides, for the use of local couples. The branches from the different trunks are interconnected in an intricate and beautiful way, creating an effective roof protecting from the sun and the rain. The leaves grow in the outer side of the branches so that the interior space is mainly brown. Many local tourists visit here, and there is a long row of food stalls in front of the island. Farther away is a small dam over the river, with a bilingual sign providing a phone number in case a dog bites you, but despite my thorough search, no dogs were visible.
It is possible to rent, at the Phimai guesthouse, a bike for 10 bahts ($0.25) for the whole day so that you can easily reach the trees in an independent fashion. They will rent the bike even if you have not slept at their place. Leaving their institution, just travel to the main junction of the old town and continue straight ahead (the new town is at your right and the central temples at your left).