intro Phanom Rung or, with its full name, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung (Phanom Rung Stone Castle), is a Khmer temple complex set on the rim of an extinct volcano at 1,320 feet above sea level, in Buriram province in the Isan region of Thailand
The setting of Phanom Rung is quite scenic, with views of the countryside all around. The site is probably the most visited Khmer monument in Thailand. If you want it quieter, be sure to arrive before 10 A.M Phanom Rung is open daily from 06.00-17.30 hrs.
History Prasat Phanom Rung is one of the most significant Khmer monuments in Thailand. It was built in sandstone and late rite in the 10th-13th century A.D. Phanom Rung was a Hindu Saivite (Shiva) monastery and symbolises Mount Kailash, his heavenly dwelling.
Thailand's Department of Fine Arts spent 17 years restoring the complex to its original state from 1971 till 1988.
On 21 May, 1988, the park was officially opened by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. In 2005, the temple was submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a future world heritage site.
Attraction Architecture After the three-leveled lower stairway, the visitor finds himself on the first cruciform platform with a first peek at the main temple. On the right, northward, is Phlab Phla or the White Elephant House. The pavilion is believed to be the place where kings and the royal family would change attire before rituals. Royalty would then enter the Processional Walkway, one of the most impressive elements of the park. It is 160 meters long and bordered by seventy sandstone posts with tops of lotus buds. The Walkway itself is paved with laterite blocks.
The Walkway leads to the first of three naga bridges. The five-headed snakes face all four directions and are from the 12th century. This bridge represents the connection between heaven and earth. 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. It has the same shape as the first one, only smaller. In the middle the remains of an eight petalled lotus carving can be seen.
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 late rite 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 tower. This last gallery leads to the third and last naga bridge, another small copy of the first one.
The bridge leads you directly into the main sanctuary. After the antechamber and the annex, one reaches the principal tower. Double porches lead out in all directions. The inner sanctum used to have the "linga", the phallic symbol of Shiva. Currently, only the "somasutra" remains which was used to drain water during religious rites. The entrances have various lintels and icons depicting Hindu religious stories, e.g. the dancing Shiva and the five Yogi's. The southern entrance is guarded by a sandstone statue.
Apart from the main tower, other buildings in the compound are: Two brick sanctuaries built around the 10th century, northeast of the tower.
The minor sanctuary southwest of the tower with a sandstone altar for a sacred image. It was built with sandstone in the 11th century. Prang Noi has only one entrance facing east. The sanctuary is square with indented corners, giving it a round feel.
Two Bannalai southeast and northeast of the principal tower. The buildings are rectangular and have only one entrance. They were built in the last period, around the 13th century, and used as a library for Holy Scriptures.
Within the Prasat or castle, is the vibrant stone hall built in the 12th century A.D. The beauty of the main prang of Phanom rung laid not only in its plan, but in the vibrant stone cravings which cover large parts of the temple. Many lintels and pediments depict episodes from Indian texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas
One of the lintels, the well-known "Narai Bantomsin", which depicts a reclining Vishnu, was recently returned from a museum in the United States. This 12th century temple complex has recently been restored and preserved in an attractive historic park. Enhancing the imposing architecture is the hill-top location which commands panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
How to get there Located between Amphoe Nang Rong and Amphoe Prakhon Chai in Buriram at the right-turn on Km. 83-84 of Highway No. 24 and twelve kilometers further on. The well-known Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is on the top of the Phanom Rung Mountain
By car Getting to Phanom Rung by car is easy. The sanctuary is 64 kilometres to the south of Buri Ram town.
There are 2 ways to get there. Visitors can proceed from Nang Rong to Prakhon Chai (Highway No. 24) and upon reaching Ban Tako, there is a 12-kilometer road to Phanom Rung. Alternatively, if visitors proceed from Prakhon Chai, there is a road from there to the sanctuary with a distance of 21 kilometres. This route passes a branch road into Muang Tam sanctuary. Visitors can rent air-conditioned vans in town.
By Bus Prasat Phanom Rung is located in Buriram. There is a bus from Buriram city to Ban Ta-Ko and from there you can get a songtaew(mini bus) to Phanom Rung.
Visitors traveling by bus from Nakhon Ratchasima can take the Nakhon Ratchasima-Surin bus and get off at Ban Tako (124 kilometres from Nakhon Ratchasima). From Ban Tako, a motorcycle service is available to take visitors to the site (fare according to agreement). There is 1 accommodation near the site.