The temple of Phimai is located close to the city Korat. However, it is geographically positioned within the premises of Phi Mai City. The site was converted into a heritage destination and a national park by the Thai and French scientists after the reconstruction of its ruins.
The word Phimai appears in an inscription on a stone slab at the front doorway of the building as well as in many other structures. It is believed that the word Phimai referred to a religious figure or site.
The Phimai Sanctuary is rectangular in shape and is 565 meters wide and 1,030 meters long. It consists of ornately carved sandstone and laterite structures. The most special characteristic of the sanctuary is that it is the only one that faces south while the others usually face east. This is probably because it was built to face the route that the Khmers traveled from the capital of the empire, to the south of Phimai.
At the main access point of the temple site, the guardian lions or demon dogs guard the temple ground. There is a big statue of white snake known as Naga, behind the demon dog. It is said that Naga is the protector of Buddha. The overall site of Phimai is extremely beautiful and serene as well. The temple ruins rest amid the some nice garden grounds.
It was the period of 1080 to 1107 when the work of Phimai temple started. Jayavarman VI was the ruler at that time when several structures of the temple were being constructed. In 1108, the sanctuary was formed in the site. However, the other important structures were developed in the period of 1181 to 1219 under the kingdom of Jayavarman VII, who constructed his own statue in one of the secondary temples. That was the period of Hindu influence and several lintels and pediments show the Hindu themes. Strangely though, the temple was not dedicated to Hindu religion, but for Buddhism.
Another similar temple
There is a grand roadway that connects Phimai city and the temple straightaway to the Angkor at 225 km to the south. We are talking about Angkor, that was the capital of the Khmer empire and well known today as a touristic destination for the famous site of Angkor Wat. The plan and magnitude of the encircling town are almost similar to Angkor Wat, which also includes a Naga temple like Phimai. The Angkor platform opens onto the first enclosure of the temple while Phimai platform gives access to the second enclosure. An additional link to Angkor Wat is the unique form of the tower of the middle sanctuary, which is mostly similar in both temples. The temple of Angkor Wat was formed after Phimai temple and it is quite evident that some of the Angkor Wat temple’s designs are influenced by the Phimai temple.
Phimai is one of the most beautiful Khmer temple in Thailand with Phanum Rung, located in Buriram province.
Easy to reach for kids and elders
The temple of Phimai is easily accessible, very well maintained and definitely very attractive. It is suitable to take kids and elderly people as there are no stairways (or almost) or mountains to climb.
The temple is located at a distance of about 50 kilometers from Korat and it is an important Khmer monument in Thailand. People who visit Nakhon Ratchasima province or Khao Yai, makes it a point to witness Phimai temple. The visitors of the temple can enter the site in the day time only. However, in case of some special events, it remains open during the evening also. Special light and sound shows along with live performances make Phimai temple a tourism hot spot.
Computer restauration 3D of Phimai (incredible website)
- Tourist Authority of Thailand on Phimai
- Art and archeology about Phimai