Of the 1200 World Heritages sites Thailand has seven. Four of these seven sites are are classified as ‘Cultural’. This is one – the latest one.
Si Thep Historical Park is in Petchabun Province, Central Thailand.
The ancient city of Si Thep was a Mon-Khmer town inhabited from around the third to fifth century until the thirteenth century. It became abandoned around the time the Thai-speaking cities of Sukhothai and later Ayutthaya emerged as new centres of power. Additionally, Si Thep is associated with the Dvaravati Empire that thrived in Central Thailand from the 6th to the 10th centuries, demonstrating influences from India.
Si Thep is not Si Thep! The name of the ancient city is not conclusively known and the identification ‘Si Thep’ is applied only because of its proximity to current day Si Thep.
Today, all that remains has been preserved as the Si Thep Historical Park, eight kilometres east of the current day city of Si Thep.
Si Thep is Thailand’s newest World Heritage site, having been proclaimed in September 2023.
The World Heritage Site covers an area of 866 hectares (2140 acres, 5400 rai, 8.66 square kilometres). Despite this large area there are only three structures extant within the Inner City (two prangs and a ‘khao’) and two outside the Inner City (one prang and a ‘khao’). The word ‘khao’ appears in inverted commas because it is a denotation of its usual meaning of mountain – in this case referring to a man-made hill.
Renewed interest in Si Thep after it was declared a World Heritage site in September 2023 brought throngs of visitors, many clambering over Khao Klong Nok and upsetting locals who believed the sanctity of the site was being trampled (Bangkok Post report 26 September 2023). By November (our visit) climbing of the archeologically delicate and culturally sacred gem was rightfully banned.
The Inner City known as Muang Nai incorporates three monuments – Prang Song Phi Nong, Prang Si Thep and Khao Klang Nai.
Prang Song Phi Nong
Prang Si Thep
Khao Klang Nai
The Outer City was known as Muang Nok.
There is plenty of parking and the internal transport to the monuments is regular and sufficient. It was apparent that trams/buses has been borrowed from Ayutthaya Historical Park to cope with the pressure of additional visitors since the site was upgraded to World Heritage status.
© Kim Epton 2023
502 words, 18 photographs, one image.
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