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Sri Thep Historical Park Petchabun Province



The SEAMO (Southeart Asian Ministers of Education Organization) Secretariate details Sri Thep Historical Park as follows,
  • ''In Thailand as elsewhere rivers have been the focal point for settlements. Many floodplains were human settlements since ancient times. Most civilizations were originated from the floodplains.
  • The Pa Sak River is one of many rivers which flows through the lower past of Northern Thailand to the central plain. It is the main vein of the communities living along the riverbanks from prehistoric time until it has fully developed into city-life.
  • There is continued history of the communities of the Pa Sak River. The most evident trace is the Sri Thep Historic Town. Situated at Sri Thep sub-district, Sri Thep district, Petchabun province and is adjacent to Chai Badan district, Lopburi Province.
  • Sri Thep Historic Town consists of double towns, One on top of another, with the total area of about 3,000 rai. It is surrounded by moats and eastern walls. There are 1,300 rai in the inner part of the town., with 1,500 metres in diameter. There are eight entrances in and out of the town. The town area consists of the plain, ponds and small swamps scattered the area. There is a group of large monuments located in the middle of the town with small monuments scattered around it.
  • The outer part of the town has the area of 1,589 rai, with similar eastern walls as the inner part. There are seven entrances in and out of the town. There are also small monuments, ponds and swamps scattered everywhere.
  • The history of Sri Thep Town was found in the book called the " Archaeology Legend (or Ni-than Borankhadi) written by Prince Damrong Rachanuparb. The record mentioned the route from Sarabusi Town, Chai Badan Town, Sri Thep Town and Petchabun Town.

  • In B.E. 2447 (1904) Prince Damrong Rachanuparb went on an official Trip to Petchabun province and intended to find out about its history. He took a boat trip from Petchabun Town to Wichianburi Town for six days and met with Phraya Prasert Songkhram, a retired governor of Petchabun. He said that Wichianburi Town was then Sri Thep Town or Tha Rong Town with Phra Sri Thamorrat as the governor of the town. In the reign of King Rama lll during the Viangchan Rebellion, Phra Sri Thamorrat was promoted. So, the Sri Thep Town was given to him in honour of his good deed as a reward and the name was changed to Wichianburi Town. The only ancient town left as ruins was Abhai Sali Town. Prince Damrong Rachanuparb visited the ruins and found that it was a large town with moats and eastern walls. There was a large pagoda or prang located in the middle of the town. A large numbers of artifacts and stone scattered everywhere.

 

  • Form the evidence discovered, Prince Damrong Pachanuparb made a hypothesis that these ruins should be Sri Thep Town and should be the origin of Wichianburi Town as well. Originally this town must have been a very large size town, the same size as Sri Mahabodhi Town in Prachinburi Province and Sukhothai Town. Wichianburi Town originated after the Sri Thep Town was deserted. It is believed that the name of Sri Thep Town was called from the very early times.
  • Later on, many scholars have studied about Sri Thep Town and presented points of view, such as the development and relationship with Sukhothai Town. Some scholars believe that it should be Rad Town, belonged to Phor Khun Pha Muang, before he had regained the Sukhothai Town back from the Khmer. The evidence from ancient Khmer architectural style, Sanskrit and Pail inscriptions that showed some traits of Sukhothai style, indicated that this town was older than the Sukhothai Town. The evidence also showed that the town development started in the 6 century AD. and was deserted in 13 century AD.
  • From archaeological investigation, it is clear that there was a community living in Sri Thep Town before the actual moated town was founded.
  • The evidence from an excavation in Sri Thep Town and on the southern side, prehistoric human skeletons were discovered near the monuments. There were grave goods buried along with the skeletons in the hope that one day the dead body would revive and would use his belongings. This belief has been practiced for thousands of years. The result from this study indicates that there was a mixed cultural development at Sri Thep Town from prehistoric to historic times.
  • In early 6 century AD. the belief in Hinduism was widespread in this community. Vishnu and Krishna sculptures were discovered there. The encounter of sculptures is the indication of Hinduism influence which includes the belief in Siva-linga in the society. This belief was transmitted from ancient Khmer to Thailand through the northeastern route.
  • Besides the belief in Hinduism, at the same time, Theravada Buddhism influence was started in the Central Plain of Thailand. The wheels of Law, bronze Buddha images and the southern Indian inscriptions were discovered in the region. Another important part that the Bodhisatva sculptures were found at many Dvaravati monuments which convinced the mixture of Mahayana and Theravade Buddhism. So, during that time both Hinduism were equally significant in the region.




  • During the 11th   - 12th   century AD. Hinduism architectural style pagoda was built in prang shape for ritual use. Materials from Buddhist shrines were dismantled to use in the construction of Hindu shrines, it was because of the stronger influence of Hinduism more than Buddhism. At this time there is evidence showing that there was conflict between the two sects: Vishnu sect and Saiva sect. Many sculptures of Linga, Nandhi cow and Umadevi were discarded and underneath were discarded and stored in and Umadevi many small buildings. It is clear that the belief in religion has changed.
  • During the 13th   century AD. the evidence showed that the town was less important and was finally deserted. The main prong and other prangs were left as ruins and were buried until the present - day.
  • There is another hypothesis about the deserted Sri Thep Town, some scholar believe that because the trade route was changed Sukhothai Town was more important, so Sri Thep Town became less important and was deserted in the end.
  • Since the discovery of Sri Thep Town it was developed into Historic Park for the purpose of the conservation of an important page in Thai history. The park is open to public for those who are interested in learning about their history and the stages of conservation of the monuments within the park. The there main monuments relating to religious belief are Khao Khlang Nai monument, Song Phi Nong Prang and Sri Thep Prang.
  • Khao Khlang Nai monument has similar architectural style as Khlong Temple at Khu Bua, Ratburi Province. The Plan of the monument is square, Facing the east with the size of 28.40 metros wide 44.30 metres long and 12 metres high, The material used is laterite with stucco figures of human and animals decorated around the base. This material used is laterite with stucco figures of human and animals decorated around the base. This shows the relationship with the characteristic of Dvaravati art style. Studying from the town plan, Khao Khlang Nai is located in the middle of the town, similar to most of the Dvaravati town plan, such as an ancient Nakhon Phathom, Khu Bua Town in Ratburi Province. Furthermore, detailed study of the stucco around the base indicating the Dvaravati art style.   These dwarf figures holding the monument on the stucco around   the base indicating the Dvaravati art style. These dwarf figures holding the monument on their shoulders are similar to the stucco found at Khu Bua Town, at Ban Khok Mai Dane monument in Nakhon Sawan Province and Nakhon Kosa Temple in Lopburi Province. These dwarf figures are believed to be the supporters of religious buildings and to protect the buildings from the evil. The evidence shows that these figures were crafted by different artisans because they were all different, which is the characteristic of Sri Thep style, unlike those done by molding today.
  • The name Khao Khlang Nai was called by the villagers, Khao means hill, Khlang means treasures and Nai means inside the town, so, the name has the meaning of the Hill of treasure in town.
  • Song Phi Nong Prang is also called by the villagers because of their appearance, one is larger than the other. The two prangs are situated on the same base, made of bricks and are facing the west. There is a lotus - shaped stone stage in front of the front entrance, which was believed to be the original base of Dvaravati Buddha image. The smaller prang is heavily damaged with only the body of the original base of Dvaravati Buddha image. The smaller prang is heavily damaged with only the body of the prang is left to be seen. The top part is also disappeared. It is situated on a large base and is also facing the west. There is only one entrance, the other three were false doors.
  • From archaeological excavation, lintel and door - frames with elaborate engraving were discovered. The characteristic of lintel and door - frames indicated that the larger prang should date to about 11 - 12 century AD. with Bapuan and Angkor Wat art styles. The smaller prang was added later on, suggesting by the conservation on the inner walls of the larger prang.
  • Sri Thep Prang is located to the east of the two prongs. It is Khmer architectural style. The prang was built of bricks and facing to the west. The base was made of laterite with lotus decoration, similar to Khmer architectural style in general. At the northwest and southwest corners, there are two small Khmer style buildings or library building [bannalai] Evidence from the excavation showed that Sri Thep Prang was a Hindu shrine and should date to about 11 - 12 century AD. Later, during 13 century AD. there was evidence of an allegation of the prang by changing its shape and adding sandstone parts to the prang. Many unfinished architectural pieces were scattered around the prang.
  • About 13 kilometres to the west of Sri Thep Town locates a large mountain called Thamorrat Mountain where mural painting of Dvaravati period was found in the cave. The cave is 4.6 metros wide, 13 metres high and 20 metres deep. Bas - relief sculptures are found an the walls and can be divided into 3 groups:
Group 1 consists of:

  • The standing Buddha image of 2.5 metres high but the hands and head were chipped and damaged. There is a lotus flower engraved at its base. There is a trace of another standing Buddha image on the right, about 1.5 metros high but was also chipped and damaged. There is only the feet and the fringe of his left on the wall.
  • On the left there is another standing Buddha, about 1.45 metres high. The head and the lower part of the torso were chipped and destroyed.
Group 2 consists of:
  • Two Buddha images and a stupa were found. The head, hands and feet of the images were chipped and destroyed. To the left is a trace of a four - arm Boodhisatva, unfortunately almost the whole body was chipped and destroyed, only parts of the upper right arm is left. There is a small Buddha image sitting in a lotus flower. To the far left of this group, there sculpture of a round - stupa with a lotus flower at its base.

Group 3 consists of:

  • Bas - relief of three sculptures, a stupa and a wheel of law were found on the most inner part of the west wall. The first sculpture is a standing four - arm Bodhisatva of 1.6 metro high, wearing a long robe, his hair was tied into a knob. His head, hands and parts of his torso were chipped. On the left is another standing four - arm Bodhisatva, parts of his head and hands were chipped. The robe is short with cloth belt around his waist. To the left of this figure there is a seated Buddha of 60 centimetres high but his head were chipped. On the left of the Buddha image there is a stupa on a square base and on the right there is a wheel of law located on a high post.
  • The groups of sculptures in the cave of Thamorrat Mountain are important evidence showing that both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism were practiced in Sri Thep Town.
  • In the north out of Sri Thep Town, there is clear evidence of a large mound called Khao Khlang Nok, Which is believed to be another ancient architectural building similar to the monuments at Khao Khlang Nai in the centre of Sri Thep Town.
  • Further away is a Khmer style prang called Ruesi Prang. It is a single prang dating to about 11-12 century AD. and has not been excavated yet. The people who lived outside the town would practice their belief at this shrine.
  • Evidence gathered from Prince Damrong Rachanuparb's record in B.E. 2447 [1904] until the present- day has shown some cultural changes in various aspects. This evidence is one of a means for the study of culture of Thai history.''