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Prasat Hin Meuang Tam (ปราสาทหินเมืองต่ำ)

Khmer-Thai. Name of an ancient Khmer-Hindu temple in the province of Buriram, built in early Baphuon style, in the late 10th and early 11th centuries, and devoted mainly to Shiva, which can be derived from the presence of a Shivalinga and a lintel with an Umamahesvara, depicting Shiva and his consort Uma seated on the bull Nandi (fig.). Vishnu is assumed to have been worshipped as a minor god, as is evident from the many bas-reliefs in the sanctuary that depict his avatars. The temple is located in the plains about 8 kilometers to the Southeast of Prasat Phanom Rung (fig.), next to a large baray. Its name means ‘Palace of the Lower City’ and refers to its location in the plains, at the base of the hilltop temple Prasat Phanom Rung and thus at a lower altitude, where also the city is situated, as opposed to the secluded position of the more important neighbour. However, some sources translate the name as ‘Palace of the Humble City’, but in that sense the word Tam should perhaps be interpreted as ‘Inferior’, i.e. inferior to Prasat Phanom Rung. Like most Khmer temples, it is orientated towards the East and has a concentric plan, with a central sanctuary and two libraries. The temple is surrounded by an enclosing wall. Within this wall, in front of the main inner sanctuary, are two L-shaped sra or ‘ponds’ (fig.), and another two are found at the back of it. The ponds have a low, encompassing wall with a doorway, as well as an encircling staircase that descends into the water. The low wall is lined with a balustrade in the form of a naga, the protector of the earthly waters. Also called Prasat Meuang Tam or simply Meuang Tam.