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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

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Muang Tum in Thailand. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • 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.

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  • Karishma Vanjani

    Thailand is a country thats known for it’s abundance of worship houses from Angkor to Muang Tum and then some more

  • Aparna Gupta

    Lord Shiva is worshipped everywhere including Thailand. The temple proves the prominence of Lord Shiva in Thailand.

  • AJ Krish

    Its really surprising that the Hindu culture had spread far. Large temples built to worship Hindu deities tells us how influential our faith is. Its sad that the people within India fail to embrace it.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Globalization is not the scenario of just the modern days! 😉

SHARE
  • Karishma Vanjani

    Thailand is a country thats known for it’s abundance of worship houses from Angkor to Muang Tum and then some more

  • Aparna Gupta

    Lord Shiva is worshipped everywhere including Thailand. The temple proves the prominence of Lord Shiva in Thailand.

  • AJ Krish

    Its really surprising that the Hindu culture had spread far. Large temples built to worship Hindu deities tells us how influential our faith is. Its sad that the people within India fail to embrace it.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Globalization is not the scenario of just the modern days! 😉

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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

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Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan

 

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)