Prasart Sikhoraphum is a small yet remarkably well-preserved brick, laterite and sandstone Hindu temple complex dating from the 11th-century and lying just east of Surin Town in northeastern Thailand. (The exact reign is unknown but the early 11th-century kings Suryavarman I or Udayadityavarman II look like good suspects. Some descriptions we’ve come across assign the temple to the Suryavarman II period although, to us, the carvings look decidedly earlier.) The ‘quincunx’ layout of 4 towers surrounding a central tower on a square laterite base is common in Cambodia but unique in Thailand and was generally reserved for important temples so, though Sikhoraphum is a relatively small site, it was probably a highly prestigious and or royal one.
The towers as you see them today are apparently the result of some Lao rebuilding during the 18th- or 19th-centuries and in more recent times renovation by the Thai Fine Arts Department. Of particular note is the immaculate and spectacular red sandstone lintel above the main tower’s east door – in such good condition, it looks like it was carved last week let alone nearly 1,000 years ago! (A particularly intricate relief featuring what we assume is Bhrama as he’s accompanied by his sacred geese. Ganesh, Vishnu and Shiva also feature so something of a family portrait scene.)
The finely carved lintel shows a ten-armed dancing Shiva supported by hamzas, (sacred geese), above the head of Kala and accompanied by, from left to right; Durga (his consort), Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesha – Shiva’s son.
The little town of Sikhoraphum is located some 30 kilometres east of Surin Town and also has a lively market so makes for a nice break on our drive from Surin to riverside Khong Jiam in Ubon Ratchathani Province on our Emerald Triangle Tour. Worth stopping for that lintel alone!