Text and photos from Thailand Travel Online
“Magic Moments of Khmer Heritage: Astro-archaeological Phenomenon at Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung”
By: Suttira Kaewthep
Phnom Rung temple (Khmer temple in Thailand) Boriram province:
Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung (Phnom Rung) is one of the most significant Khmer era temples in Thailand. Highly regarded as a well preserved example of Angorean style architecture, Phanom Rung is also famous for an extraordinary magic moment.
Yearly there is a phenomenon that is marked by festival and many interested spectators eager for a chance to see the astro-archaeological phenomenon which will only happen four times a year.
This year the Ascent of the Mountain Annual Festival (or the long-version “The Festival of the Thousand Year Miracle of the Phanom Rung Grand Shrine at Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung in Burirum”) is going to be launched again on April 2 – 4, 2010.
Phanom Rung is situated on a summit of Khao Phanom Rung in Buriram (about 400 km north and east of Bangkok), which offers a spectacular panorama over the area. It is a striking Khmer temple which is believed to be a home to gods and deities dating from the 12th century or earlier. Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung is lavishly adorned with decorative stone carvings created by skillful craftsmen of this early period.
Apart from its outstanding location and beautiful Cambodian art style, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is well-known for its auspicious ‘astro-archaeological’ phenomenon. From detailed calculations, we can know the exact moment to witness when the rising sun will shine through the 15 doorways of the ancient Hindu temple.
In 2010 it is predicted that the first phase of this phenomenon at Prasat Phanom Rung will be during sunrise on April 2 through to the 4th. If the sky is clear, the sun will align to shine perfectly through all the 15 doors of the Phanom Rung temple with a single beam of radiance.
Each year, a fair will be held featuring a variety of exhibits about Phanom Rung temple and featuring local performances. Highlights include a rarely seen a buang suang ceremony (summons ritual), a procession paying homage to Hindu gods and deities and a traditional Northeastern Thailand dinner.
The Ascent of the Mountain Annual Festival also features cultural performances, the Phanom Rung Devalai light-and-sound shows and various kinds of souvenirs stalls including village handicrafts and products from the sub-districts (tambon) of Buriram province promoted under the OTOP (One Tambon One Product) banner.
By Suttira Kaewthep