Muang Tum: 1,000 year-old Lord Shiva Temple in Thailand

Muang Tum temple complex in the Buriram province of Thailand is a 1000 years old structure built during the reign of the Khmer emperor

Muang Tum in Thailand. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Muang Tum is a temple complex also known as Prasat Hin Muang Tum and Prasat Hin
  • It is an Angkor-style Khmer temple built between 10th and 11th centuries  
  • It is located at a little distance from another Khmer temple complex called Phanom Rung

The Muang Tum  is an old Khmer temple complex which is located in Buriram province of Northeast Thailand. It is a 1000-year-old structure situated at a little distance away from the border of Cambodia. The actual name of the temple is Prasat Hin Muang Tum but there are various other names by which the temple can be referred to.

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Muang Tum. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
Muang Tum. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

Muang Tum was built it in Angkor style when Thailand was primarily ruled by Khmer emperors. It stretches from present day Siem Reap in Cambodia to Phimai in Nakhon Ratchasima province, further North West. It was dedicated to Lord Shiva. Some intricate architectural manifestations of Khmer empire can be spotted in the temple complex. It was constructed roughly within the 10th to 11th centuries but was abandoned a few centuries later.

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In the northern side of Prasat Muang Tum, there is a lake or Baray. A water body which measures more than a 1,000 meters long and 500 meters wide is called a Baray. The lake is supposed to symbolise the ocean surrounding Mount Meru and forming the centre of the Hindu universe of Hindu cosmology. The temple has a rectangular structure with the main gate in the centre of the eastern wall. But there is a gate in the centre of each wall. The walls are built with the lateritic material. There are numerous beautiful ponds which have five-headed Naga antiques in the centre.

The five headed Naga. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
The five-headed Naga. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is an inner sanctuary enclosed by a rectangular gallery. Each gate has gopuras and leads to rooms where Hindu ceremonies used to be held. Carvings of Lord Shiva, Uma and other mythological deities are found. They are well preserved. The inner sanctuary has five towers but the tallest one has unfortunately collapsed over time. This tower was the symbolic representation of the centre of the Universe according to Hindu cosmology. It also had a Shiva linga, the representation of Shiva’s unparalleled strength. The temple library keeps the Hindu scriptures archived.

In order to get to the Buriram province of Thailand where Muang Tum is located, one has to take a bus from Buriram town to either of the villages, Nong Rong or Prakhon Chai. From there the tourist can avail the motorbike taxi service to get to the temple. It would definitely be a lot easier to get there by organised tour.

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.