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Maha Sarakham (มหาสารคาม)

Thai. ‘Great independent village’. Provincial capital and province (map) in central Isaan, about 475 kms Northeast of Bangkok, between Khon Khaen and Roi Et. There is historical evidence that the area has been inhabited for several hundred years. Objects and artifacts from the Dvaravati period showing ancient Buddhist influences from the end of the Gupta and the Pallava period from India have been found, i.e. from a standing Buddha image and clay votive tablets to relics of the Buddha. These objects came via Pukaam and were found in the vicinity of the tambon Kohk Phra (โคกพระ) in the amphur Kanthara Wichai and at Nakhon Jampah Sri (นครจำปาศรี) in the amphur Wapi Pathum. Besides this, also art styles with brahman influences have been found, dating from the Lopburi period and brought along by the Khmer people, including several Khmer buildings known as koo (กู่), graven images and pottery which was excavated all around Maha Sarakham province. The city was founded near the source of the Kut Nang Yai (กุดนางใย) river, on 22 August 1865 AD, by a royal decree of Phra Chom Klao that elevated the village of Ban Lahd Kut Yahng Yai (บ้านลาดกุดยางใหญ่) to the status of a city, renaming it Meuang Maha Sarakham and populating it with about 2,000 people from nearby Roi Et. He appointed thao Maha Chai (มหาชัย) and his brother thao Bua Thong (บัวทอง), both grandsons of Phraya Khatiyawongsah (ขัติยวงศา), the second ruler of Roi Et, as the local leaders to rule the city, originally as a satellite town of Roi Et. In 1869 the central government in Bangkok declared Maha Sarakham a province in its own right and another 7,000 people from Roi Et were resettled to help populate the Maha Sarakham, allegedly to weaken the power of Roi Et. The province has eleven amphur and two king amphur. Its places of interest include Kosamphi Forest Park (fig.), a wildlife reserve for Long-tailed Macaques (fig.). See also Maha Sarakham data file.