Prasat Muang Tam is a Khmer temple in Prakhon Chai district, Buri Ram Province, Thailand. It took a little over 4 hours for me to drive to the temple from my home in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand. If you are coming from Bangkok you will need to add around two hours to the drive depending on road conditions etc.
Wikipedia says “The temple 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 has been pieced back together from original stones. Many of the Khmer temples I have seen in Thailand have been remade in this manner. I had a long conversation with Preecha, the caretaker of Sdok Kok Thom, not far from this temple, and he rebuilt the temple by himself, with help from laborers. He said it took him 4 years to find the stones and assemble them. During the decline and fall of the Khmer Empire many temples were abandoned or destroyed, and from the looks of some of them, they were pretty well demolished. The restoration is done the best they can by finding the stones and piecing them back together, but you can easily see some of the pieces don’t fit, they don’t quite match up.
It is a shame, that more resources were not used to rebuild these Thai Khmer temples. But, at least it is rebuilt with original stones. The stones are assembled to fit the vision of what the workers thought the original temple would look like, and I do give the workers a lot of credit, this was not an easy task.
So, why didn’t they take 20 years longer, use real archaeologists, and spend the time and resources do it better? The answer is simple, Preecha told me he was under pressure to get it done so they could attract tourists, so when the stones did not match up he used what he could find. Sad but true, in Thailand, money is a key motivating factor in all facets of life. Doing without, and making do is a reality in this part of the world.
Even though all the pieces are not a perfect match, I would still highly recommend a visit to this temple and the others in the area, you can get a reasonably good idea of what the original looked like, and the individual stones, give good insight into the culture of the late 10th and early 11th centuries. I recommend as always, the soft light of early morning or late afternoon for the best photography. Even a cloudy or rainy day is your friend if you want good images.
Until next time – Happy travels!