July 05, 2020.
Thailand, like many places, is still closed to most international tourists, and most likely re-opening will be a long slow process, with visitors from countries deemed safe from Covid19 being allowed to enter the kingdom, and then at first, only allowed to visit a few designated areas. The United States is not even on any approval list with their massive amount of people testing positive for the disease. I thought it may be a good time for me to post about places of interest I traveled to and photographed before the current restrictions were put into place.
Prasat Muang Tam is a Khmer temple in Prakhon Chai district, Buri Ram Province, Thailand.
It is primarily in the Khleang and Baphuon styles, which dates its primary phases of construction to the late 10th and early 11th centuries.
The temple is quite nice, and at the time I visited during the week, nearly empty. The lack of people and the overcast day was excellent for photography. I recommend the widest lens you have, which does not produce too much distortion. You will be photographing fairly close, especially once you enter the temple grounds. I left my home in central Thailand at 3AM to catch the early morning light. I drove in my personal auto. I don’t usually travel in a tour bus or van as I like the freedom to stop and make photos of whatever I see that I find interesting.
The temple has been restored using the original stones. I spoke with the caretaker who did the restoration and it was quite a project, as you can imagine. The biggest problem he had with the ruins was matching up the stones so they would fit together, and make sense.
The primary deity of the temple was Shiva, although Vishnu was also worshipped there. Like most Khmer temples, Muang Tam is oriented towards the east. It has a flat concentric plan, with a central sanctuary and two libraries surrounded successively by an inner enclosure, ponds, and an outer enclosure. The ponds between the enclosures are an unusual feature of the temple, as is the central sanctuary, which is not elevated and has its towers arranged in rows of three and two rather than in a quincunx. All the towers except the central one have been restored.
My overall experience with Prasat Muang Tam was a pleasant one. The pre-planning to arrive when the light was good, paid off, and the lack of people at the temple was an added bonus for photography. It’s smaller places like this temple that make exploring Thailand fun, and interesting.
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