Wat Kamphaeng Laeng is a Khmer sanctuary located near Phetchaburi. It is the most southern of Thailand’s Khmer temples and the oldest tower in Phetchaburi. The refuge is tiny and less striking than more well-known Khmer temples in North East Thailand, such as Phimai or Phanom Rung.
12th Century “sandstone wall temple.”
The temple was built near the end of the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, one of Angkor’s most fabulous Kings, when the Khmer kingdom expanded as far west as Burma and south as the Malay peninsula. Wat Kamphaeng Laeng was built as a Hindu temple and transformed into a Buddhist temple.
Surrounded by a sandstone wall
The ancient temple is enclosed by a massive sandstone wall, the majority of which is still surviving. The gopura or gates that allowed entrance to the grounds, were built within the division. The Wat Kamphaeng Laeng, like most Khmer temples in Thailand and Cambodia, faces east.
Five laterite prangs
There were originally five laterite prangs. Four smaller prangs encircle the central prang in the center at the four corners. Four prangs remain today, while one has collapsed.
The traditional corncob shape
The prangs have a typical corncob shape with a declining size towards the top. All structures were entirely stuccoed. Some of the elaborate plaster ornamentations in flower designs have still survived. A number of the prangs’ niches’ houses are incredibly damaged and weathered pictures of the Buddha.
The main, South, and North towers are built on an elevated platform. Each prang housed an icon such as Shiva or Vishnu, the Hindu Gods worshipped by the ancient Khmer.
The main shrine
The main shrine is the largest and is located in the center of the temple, surrounded by four corner prangs. It is supported on a base with rounded corners. A portico with an entrance can be found on its four sides. The collapsing top was made up of five receding stories. Most of the stucco has vanished, but remnants of the exquisite flower designs remain. The sanctuary was named after Shiva. The prang now houses a seated figure of the Buddha.
The surrounding shrines
There is an entrance on each side of the South shrine. The opening was in the Eastern gate, while the Western door housed an idol. Stuccoed sculptings graced the arches of the North and South entrances. The top is made up of five receding stories. The North shrine is similar to the South shrine, except its roof has fallen. The West shrine, which had the same layout as the North and South shrines, is mostly gone. A portico surrounds the East shrine in all four directions. The East and West porticos had entrances, whereas the others were false. A fake balustrade window can be found on each side of the doors.
The Wat Kamphaeng Laeng is situated on the grounds of an operational Buddhist temple that was constructed in the 1950s. A new ubosot (ordination hall) and Kuti, the monks’ dwelling quarters, are built around the ancient structures.
Several images were discovered during excavations by the Thai Fine Arts Department in 1987, including a Nak Prok image (Buddha seated on the coiled-up body of the serpent Mucalinda and hidden by its hoods) and a picture of Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion.