The Phra Prang Sam Yot is Lopburi’s most well-known and oldest landmark. It is one of several monuments from the Khmer period. The monument in the heart of Lopburi town is arguably best known for the vast number of monkeys that roam freely, always looking for food.
“Three holy prangs”
Phra Prang Sam Yot, which translates to “three holy prangs,” appears on the Lopburi province seal, which displays Vishnu in front of the monument’s three prangs.
The Phra Prang Sam Yot comprises three Khmer-style laterite prangs, the tallest being the central one and the other slightly smaller. The prangs are joined by vaulted corridors and stand on a low base.
The towers are stuccoed with legendary creature designs, of which little exists now. A carving of Rishi, a hermit from Indian and Thai mythology, is carved into the colonettes of the Southern entrance, sitting in a niche. Two of the prangs have Lopburi-style Buddha images.
History of the Phra Prang Sam Yot
The Phra Prang Sam Yot was constructed during the reign of the Khmer empire from Angkor. The monument was most likely created during the era of King Jayavarman VII, who also built Angkor Thom, the capital of the Khmer kingdom, and the Bayon, his state temple.
Built as a Buddhist sanctuary
The Phra Prang Sam Yot was most likely established as a Buddhist sanctuary, as King Jayavarman VII was a Mahayana Buddhist, as opposed to his Hindu predecessors.
Converted into a Hindu shrine
The Phra Prang Sam Yot was formerly converted into a Hindu shrine since multiple lingas or representations of the Hindu God Shiva were discovered inside the prangs.
Prang Khaek, which translates to “Indian prangs,” is a Khmer-era structure a few hundred meters south of Phra Prang Sam Yot.
The Prang Khaek is a Hindu shrine of three tiny brick prangs. They are not connected by passageways, unlike the Prang Phra Sam Yot. The Prang Khaek is Lopburi’s oldest Khmer monument, dating back to the 10th century.
The brick viharn next to the prangs was built in the 17th century during the reign of King Narai the Great.
San Phra Kan shrine
The San Phra Kan shrine comprises an ancient Khmer tower and a more contemporary one. The old construction, which was most likely built in the 11th century, consists of a mound of substantial laterite blocks with the remnants of an ancient building.
A new shrine featuring a standing picture of the Hindu God Vishnu with four arms was created in 1951. The highly valued image’s head was missing; it was eventually replaced with the head of an Ayutthaya-style Buddha figure. The San Phra Kan shrine is especially famous for the monkeys that congregate there.
How to get to Phra Prang Sam Yot, Prang Khaek & San Phra Kan shrine
All three monuments can be found in the historic area of Lopburi, east of the Lopburi river. The Phra Prang Sam Yot is located a few hundred meters north of the central train station on Phra Sam Yot road. The Prang Khaek is located on Vichayen Road, a few hundred meters southwest of Phra Prang Sam Yot. The San Phra Kan shrine is immediately east of the Phra Prang Sam Yot.