Ancient Siva Temple Aligns with Sun
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Mar 21, BURI RAM, THAILAND (HPI) Ancient Thailand Siva Temple To Experience Rare Alignment with Sun
In Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, mountains are believed to be homes to the Gods. Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung, a magnificent temple sanctuary set on the summit of Phanom Rung Hill, was built between the 10th and 13th centuries. According to the stone inscriptions in Sanskrit and Khmer found at the site, the original name of the temple complex is Phanom Rung, Khmer words meaning "big mountain."
A religious sanctuary dedicated to the Hindu God, Siva, Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung symbolizes Mount Kailasa, the heavenly abode of Siva. Phanom Rung Hill rises 350 metres above the surrounding plain. Astrologers have predicted that an extraordinary astro-archaeological phenomenon will occur at sunrise during the April 3-5 period this year.
The doors of the temple sanctuary are so perfectly aligned that during this period, at sunrise on a cloudless day with clear blue skies, the sun's rays will shin e through all fifteen doorways of the sanctuary in a single shaft of light.
These magnificent man-made sandstone sanctuaries, often referred to as palaces of the Gods, sit atop hills rising above the high plains of I-san and still bear witness to the half millennium from the 9th to 14th centuries during which a powerful Khmer state flourished in the region, including what is today northwestern Cambodia. These extraordinary towers comprise elements of temple architecture meant to symbolise Mount Meru, the mythical peak at the center of the Hindu-Buddhist universe.
Sometimes referred to as "high Cambodia," the provinces of Buri Ram, Surin, Nakhon Ratchasima and Sisaket were a perfect setting for the development of these Meru microcosms. Although Thai folk belief once held that the larger, cruciform-plan monuments served as palaces for Angkor's all-powerful kings, in fact these buildings were designed as temporary abodes for Siva, Vishnu, Maitreya and other Deities called to earth via religious ritual. To the east of I-san's temple-dotted pl ateaus lay the river valleys of "low Cambodia," the heartland of Angkorean civilization where its kings resided.
A sacred "superhighway" linked Prasat Phimai with 12th-century Angkor Wat, the largest and most complex of the Khmer temples. Angkor rulers were at the time considered to be devaraja or "god-kings," and to maintain that vaunted status they and their priests periodically travelled between key monuments to perform complex ceremonies involving fire, water, and Sivalingam.
Monuments en route offered spiritual and temporal support along these potentially arduous journeys, including 102 "houses with fire" and 121 "hospitals" or "healing stations" (arokayasala). These structures became so important to the sanctity of the Angkor empire that some 300 Khmer shrines were erected between the 7th and 13th centuries. Temple construction reached its zenith in the 12th and 13th centuries.
For information on visiting these temples, go to the web site of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, here .
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