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Nakhon Ratchasima, Phimai Historical Park, Phimai District, Korat.

Nakhon Ratchasima Page 7,  more places to see in Korat Nakhon Ratchasima,Page 7b,  Phimai Historical Park, Phimai District, Korat. Thailand.

I visited this wonderful Sanctuary on the 21st June 2014. It was getting late in the day having just been to Wat Pa Lak Roi at Non Thai. The sun was fast disappearing and so the light was going fast. Within the Park is the Phimai Sanctuary, the largest and one of the most important Khmer historical sites in Thailand.

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. The Phimai Sanctuary is rectangular in shape and is 565 metres wide and 1,030 metres 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 Khmer's travelled from the capital of the empire, to the south of Phimai.

From stone inscriptions and the architectural style, the Phimai Sanctuary was most likely built at the end of the 11th century during the reign of King Suriyaworaman I. The architectural style is that of the Baphuon style that prospered at the time.

However, some characteristics are similar to that of Angkor Wat, which became popular at a later period. Some additions were made to the site in the early 18th Buddhist century during the reign of King Chaiworaman VII when Phimai had close relations with the Khmer Empire. The sanctuary was always a religious site of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism because King Suriyaworaman I and King Chaiworaman VII were followers of the sect.

The Naga Bridge is the first part you pass when visiting the site. The bridge and lion figures stand in front of the Gopura ( porch ) south of the main pagoda. The intention may have been to build a link between earth and heaven according to both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs concerning the universe. The Gopura was adapted as the wall around the sanctuary and the four entering porches. There is a large corridor connecting the outer and inner areas of the main sanctuary. Above each porch is a lintel of various designs.