The city wall was built by mounding dirt into ramparts. Arched gateways made of laterite are found to the south, west and north. The southern gate, Pratu Chai or Victory Gate is the best example and it faces towards Angkor. An ancient road can still be traced leading out from this gate and served as a major route from Angkor to Phimai.
On the banks of the Mun River, the picturesque Phimai National Museum is home to numerous artefacts excavated from the nearby Prasat and other geological sites in the Northeast. Among the many Buddhist statues you'd expect, an extensive collection of ancient Khmer jewellery and ornamentation has survived and is displayed here. A brief English description accompanies each exhibit.
In the 1960's and '70's the museum site largely served as a storage warehouse for artefacts found in archaeological excavation and restoration efforts in the region. In 1987, the Department of Fine Arts allocated 40,000,000 baht to create the museum space that exists today.
The museum is divided into three exhibitions:
1. On the second floor - shows the development of communities in the lower part of northeast Thailand from prehistoric to recent periods.
2. On the ground floor - shows the archaeology and history of the town. It includes the construction of Prasat Phimai during the 11th-13th centuries and evidence of the flourishing religion, culture and economy of the time.
3. Outdoors - displays sandstone objects including lintels, door columns, motifs, lotus bud-shaped crowns and miniature towers.
Open: 9am-4pm. Admission: 100 baht.
This brick chedi stands on high mound in the centre of the town. It probably got its name from a folk tale called "Nang Orapim and Thao Pajit" which referred to it as a place for the cremation of King Bhramathat. It is believed to date from the late Ayutthaya period (18th century).
The outer courtyard between the inner and outer walls house two rectangular sandstone buildings which have raised floors and are separated into many long rooms. Evidence of square pillars were found. The buildings might have had wooden roofs covered with tiles and were probably used to store religious holy scriptures.
There is one basin in each corner of the outer courtyard, each of which is lined with sandstone. Excavations reveal that architectural pieces such as pillars, walls and door frames were found in them. These areas used to be locations of other smaller temples which probably date to the late Ayutthaya period (18th century).
To the east of the central tower is this sandstone structure built in a square shape with indented corners. It is 8.15m square and 0.70m high with a square hole in the middle of the floor and large holes at each edge of the northern and southern sides. It is assumed that it was associated with some kind of ceremony.
The inner courtyard, the most important part of the sanctuary, houses the central tower and was constructed with white sandstone around the 11th-12th century. Unlike other Khmer religious structures which generally face east, the central tower faces to the south. It comprises two important parts - the Mandapa or antechamber and the Dhaty or the main temple. Carvings appear on different parts of the tower and depict episodes from the Ramayana and the story of Buddhism. However, the carvings on the southern side show the dancing Shiva.
The Ho Brahm or Brahman Shrine is a building constructed with sandstone and laterite on the same base as the Red Stone Prang. In 1954, seven sandstone Shivalingas were found inside. It is believed that this place was used to perform Hindu ceremonies. However, from the plan and location of the building, it is likely that it was originally used as a storage place for keeping holy scriptures.
The laterite Prang Bhramathat, southeast of the principal tower has a square base with entrances built as porches in a cruciform shape. Inside, two sculptures were found - one of a man sitting cross-legged which is thought to be that of King Jayavarman VII or Thao Brahmathat, and the other is believed to be Queen Jayarajathevi. These are displayed in the Phimai National Museum.
Enclosing the central tower is a high-raised sandstone wall. It is similar in appearance to the Kamphaeng Kaew, in that, it has arched gateways in the centre of the wall on all four sides. The position of each gateway is in line with those of the city gates and the entrances to the sanctuary. An inscription was found at the southern arched gateway that indicates a date between 1108 and 1112 and mentions the construction of sacred images, the establishment of the city, the names of high ranking nobility and the name of King Dharanindravaraman I.
The arched gateways or gopurams are set in the centre of each of the four sides of the Kamphaeng Kaew (the outer wall). The northern and southern gateways are in the middle of the walls while the east and the west are slightly to the north. The path from the Kamphaeng Kaew to the inside of the ancient city is believed to be an entrance to the heavenly realm where deities reside.
The sandstone passageway links the southern arched gateway of the outer wall to that of the inner wall or Rabieng Khot which surrounds the central tower. The passageway is a 1 metre high raised platform. A large number of roof-like tile pieces and baked clay baralis (roof finials) were found during restorations.
The Naga (mythical snake) Bridge is the sandstone platform leading to the gopuram, an arched gateway located in the southern outer wall of the Prasat. The bridge has a cruciform shape measuring 4m by 31.70m. The body of the naga forms the rail of the bridge and the nagas have seven heads arranged in the form of a cobra spreading its hood. The bridge represents the connection between heaven and earth in the Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist beliefs.
Once a part of the sprawling Khmer empire, Phimai, located 60km north-east of Khorat, was once directly connected by road to the capital of Angkor and was considered to be an integral part of the empire, seeing a steady stream of traders and religious travellers passing through its gates.
The main enclosed area of the Prasat Phimai, which measures 1020x580m, is comparable with that of Angkor Wat which means that Phimai must have been an important city in the Khmer empire. Most of the buildings were started in the late 10th century by the Khmer King Jayavarman V and were later finished by King Suriyavarman I. They are built in the Baphuon, Bayon and Angkor Wat style. However, even though the Khmer at that time were Hindu, the temple was built as a Buddhist temple, as Buddhism in the Khorat area dated back to the 7th century. Inscriptions name the site as Vimayapura (which means city of Vimaya), which developed into the Thai name Phimai.
Open: 7.30am-6pm every day. Admission into Historic Park: 100 baht.
In Phimai city,you can find some ponds in the city.Almost ponds 're ancient reservoir of Phimai city.It called Baray in Khmer language.Some believed it 's the sacred pond for making merit.The ponds in Phimai 're Sra Kaew in the West and Sra Kwan in the North(inside Phimai National Museum),Sra Prung.These 3 ponds 're in the city.More 2 ponds ;Sra Pleng (in the East) and Sra Bot (in the West) 're outside the city.