March 26, 2015
Buriram’s most famous festival ‘Sunrise at the Gate.’ Where ancient history meets a modern light and sound show
When: 31st March -5th April 2017
Where: Phanom Rung Monument. Buriram Province North east Thailand.
Phanom Rung Historical Park Festival
The festival is held to celebrate, the 6 am sunrise in April each year and with it, the mystical powers the sun’s rays have, on those who are fortunate enough to witness the light, as it streams through the open temples doorways.
The park extends its normal opening hours during the festival (and the other event dates see below), as this is when people come from all over Thailand to pay homage to sacred spirits and to participate in individual ancient Brahmin ceremonies. (Many Thai’s regard Hinduism as an offshoot of Buddhism and worship Siva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesha, and Brahma. Hindu’s make up 0.1% of the population of the Kingdom).
The festival will also feature a rarely seen invocation ritual, or buang suang ceremony, (see here: You Tube of the ceremony) along with a gloriously colourful parade to pay respect to the gods and spirits.
Added to the festivities are a number of traditional cultural dance & music performances, including the Apsara Dancing tournament and on April 4 and 5 the Phanom Rung Devalai light-and-sound presentations begins. The 3 pm show depicts the procession of a former Khmer princess, while the 7 pm light-and-sound show presents the history of Phanom Rung.
Admission to all activities except the light and sound shows is free, while tickets to the light and sound show are 500 baht each.
No festival in Thailand would be complete without the chance to buy and savour a vast range of souvenirs, village handicrafts, and local food and drink products, which you will find in abundance on sale, outside of the monument.
The sun coming through the temple windows can be observed 4 times a year;
|Sunset||4 – 7||March|
|Sunrise||3 – 5||April|
|Sunrise||8 – 10||September|
|Sunset||5 – 8||October|
Note: Dates may vary slightly each year due to the suns cycle
Phanom Rung Monument
Phanom Rung or full name, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, is Perched 402 metres on top of a dormant volcano, this somewhat magical place was built between the 10th and 13th centuries and has commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
From this vantage point you can see all the way to the Dongrek Mountains in Cambodia (Due South), if you look to the Northwest you may also just see the smaller Khmer temple of ‘Prasat Meuang Tam’ some 8 kms away. The location and size of the complex is a sign of its prior importance in the Khmer Empire.
This once sumptuous sanctuary was first built as a Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva, and symbolises Mount Kailash, (Shiva’s heavenly dwelling), this can be seen in the many sculptured deities that are elegantly engraved into the rock above the doorways through-out the sanctuary. Later in its long and colourful history this impressive structure was changed into a religious site for Buddhists.
The complex is vast and is entered by first traversing, the many terraces to the first platform where you find the ‘Rohng Chang Pheuak’ (White Elephant Hall), it is here where royalty and nobility would have once bathed and changed clothes before entering the temple.
From the hall you follow the 160m long paved promenade, flanked by its seventy sandstone posts crowned with lotus buds. It is about now that you realize you are walking in the same foot-steps of royalty and priests, who would have taken the same route centuries ago.
The promenade is recognised as the best example of its kind in Thailand and ends at the feet of the first Naga Bridge, with its intimidating five-headed Naga, facing all four directions. (Mythical serpent like beings with magical powers). Once over the first bridge its then up the stairs and past the four pools to cross the remaining two smaller Naga Bridges, before entering the main temple buildings consisting of; prangs, mondop, galleries, terraces and finally the prasat.
The whole complex was designed to face east, and four times a year the sun on its normal course, of rising and setting shines its light through all 15 temple doorways. This spectacle of light is believed to bring great blessings upon everyone who is there to witness it.
Phanom Rung Historical Park
Phanom Rung is situated in the Phanom Rung Historical Park, one of 10 such Parks in Thailand with four of them registered as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. After 17 years of restoration it can easily claim to be the best Khmer monument in the kingdom. The park also houses the largest number of Khmer monuments in Thailand.
How to get there: There is a bus from Buriram city to Ban Ta-Ko and from there you can get a Songthaew to Phanom Rung. Coordinates: 14°31′57″N 102°56′30″E
For more contact TAT Surin +66 4451 4447
‘This beautifully restored Khmer sanctuary with its long and chequered history would be worth the visit even without the festival, its very presence is a monument to the beliefs, ingenuity and spirit of the Thai people.
The festival is a pure delight, with a fine blend of faith, natural beauty, awe inspiring architecture and an abundance of cultural history, all topped off with the dazzling sights and sounds the light show’
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