Phimai Historical Park, located in Nakhon Ratchasima, is one of Thailand’s hidden treasures. This ancient Khmer temple complex dates back to the 11th century and is renowned for its intricate architecture and cultural significance. With its well-preserved structures and myths, it is an essential destination for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and curious travelers.
History of Phimai Historical Park
Phimai Historical Park is believed to have been built in the 11th century during the reign of the Khmer Empire, which ruled over much of Southeast Asia. The complex was constructed to serve as a Mahayana Buddhist temple and a political and cultural center for the Khmer Empire’s expansion into the northeastern region of Thailand. Phimai was a significant trade and transportation hub that connected the Khmer Empire with the ancient Lavo city and other important settlements.
Architecture of Phimai Historical Park Phimai
Historical Park showcases an impressive collection of Khmer architecture, which is known for its intricate carvings, graceful proportions, and symbolic elements. The temple complex is surrounded by a massive rectangular wall, which is 565 meters long and 1,030 meters wide. The walls are made of laterite, a reddish-brown stone that was widely used in Khmer architecture.
The Main Sanctuary
The Main Sanctuary is the centerpiece of Phimai Historical Park, and it is where the Khmer kings performed religious and political ceremonies. The temple is designed to represent Mount Meru, the mythical mountain that is believed to be the center of the universe. The Main Sanctuary has three prangs, which are towering structures that are adorned with intricate carvings of deities, celestial beings, and mythical creatures.
The Library is a smaller temple that was used to store important religious texts and manuscripts. The temple has a rectangular shape, and its entrance is adorned with beautiful sculptures of Garuda, a mythical bird-like creature that is a prominent symbol in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
The Preah Vihear
The Preah Vihear is a small sanctuary that is located at the eastern end of the temple complex. It is designed to represent the mythical Mount Kailash, which is believed to be the abode of the Hindu god Shiva. The sanctuary is adorned with intricate carvings of Shiva and other deities, as well as celestial beings and mythical creatures.
The Naga Bridge
The Naga Bridge is an iconic feature of Phimai Historical Park, which spans across a moat that surrounds the temple complex. The bridge is adorned with seven-headed naga sculptures, which are believed to be guardians of the temple and symbols of good fortune and prosperity.
The Elephant Pond
The Elephant Pond is a large reservoir that is located in the northern part of the temple complex. It is believed to have been used for ritual bathing and as a source of water for the temple. The pond is surrounded by lush vegetation and is home to a variety of birds and aquatic animals.
The Phimai Museum
The Phimai Museum is located near the entrance of the temple complex and showcases a collection of artifacts and historical objects that provide insight into the Khmer Empire’s culture and way of life. The museum has a vast collection of ceramics, sculptures, and inscriptions that date back to the 10th and 11th centuries.
The Khmer Inscriptions
Phimai Historical Park has several Khmer inscriptions that provide valuable information about the temple complex’s history and its role in the Khmer Empire. The inscriptions are carved on stone tablets and provide a glimpse into the Khmer Empire’s culture, religion, and political structure.
Legends and Myths of Phimai
Phimai Historical Park is shrouded in myths and legends, which have been passed down through generations. One such legend is that the temple was built by a giant named Thotsakan, who was ordered by his king to construct a temple that would rival the one in Angkor Wat. Another popular myth is that the temple was built by a group of Hindu ascetics who had supernatural powers.
The Annual Phimai Festival
The Annual Phimai Festival is held every year in November to celebrate the temple complex’s cultural heritage and its significance in Thai history. The festival features traditional dance performances, music, and food, and attracts visitors from all over Thailand and the world.
Getting to Phimai Historical
Park Phimai Historical Park is located in Nakhon Ratchasima, which is about 300 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. Visitors can take a train or a bus from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and then hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk to reach the temple complex.
Accommodations and Restaurants
There are several hotels and guesthouses near Phimai Historical Park that offer comfortable accommodation for visitors. The town of Phimai has several restaurants that serve delicious Thai cuisine and street food.
Tips for Visiting Phimai Historical
Park Visitors to Phimai Historical Park should wear comfortable clothing and shoes as they will need to do a lot of walking. It is recommended to visit the temple complex early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and the heat. Visitors should also respect the temple’s cultural and religious significance and refrain from touching or climbing on the structures.
Phimai Historical Park is a hidden gem of Thailand that is rich in history, culture, and architectural beauty. This temple complex is a must-visit destination for anyone who is interested in exploring Thailand’s cultural heritage and ancient civilizations. From the intricate carvings to the fascinating myths and legends, Phimai Historical Park offers a glimpse into the Khmer Empire’s grandeur and influence on the region.
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- What is the best time to visit Phimai Historical Park? A: The best time to visit Phimai Historical Park is in the morning or late afternoon when the temperature is cooler and the crowds are fewer.
- How long does it take to explore Phimai Historical Park? A: It takes about 2-3 hours to explore Phimai Historical Park thoroughly. However, visitors can spend more time if they wish to study the intricate architecture and learn about the temple’s history.
- Are there any dress codes or restrictions when visiting Phimai Historical Park? A: Visitors are advised to dress appropriately when visiting Phimai Historical Park, and women should cover their shoulders and wear long pants or skirts. Visitors should also respect the temple’s cultural and religious significance and refrain from touching or climbing on the structures.
- Is there an entrance fee to visit Phimai Historical Park? A: Yes, there is an entrance fee to visit Phimai Historical Park. The fee is 100 Baht for foreigners and 40 Baht for Thai citizens.
- What is the best way to get to Phimai Historical Park? A: The best way to get to Phimai Historical Park is by taking a train or a bus from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and then hiring a taxi or a tuk-tuk to reach the temple complex. Visitors can also hire a car or a motorbike to explore the surrounding areas.
Price and opening days
341/3 ใน 115/2 Wannaprang Alley, Nai Mueang, Phimai District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30110 Phone: +66 4447 1568