World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 5

By Paul Bernabeo | Go to book overview

Nakhon Ratchasima

Until the rapid growth of Udon Thani in the second half of the twentieth century, Nakhon Ratchasima was the largest city in eastern Thailand. However, Nakhon Ratchasima, which had a population of 204,000 at the 2000 Thai national census, remains a major regional center.

Nakhon Ratchasima, which is locally known as Khorat, is an important commercial, transportation, and administrative hub in northeastern Thailand. The city lies at the southwestern edge of the Khorat Plateau, the upland that covers most of the region.


A MODERN CITY

Nakhon Ratchasima grew rapidly from the mid-1960s through the 1970s during the Vietnam War. when the city's Thai air force facility expanded as a base for U.S. planes that conducted missions over Vietnam. The increased population of the city boosted its commercial sector and other service industries. The city also has a variety of industries that process the agricultural products of the region (known as Isan), including rice and meat (both beef and pork). There are also factories that manufacture consumer goods.

The restored Khmer temple at Phimai near Nakhon Ratchasima is
one of Thailand's most visited ancient monuments
.

The city is a provincial capital and it is also an educational center with a technical university and other colleges. Nakhon Ratchasima has a nourishing service sector catering to tourists who visit historic sites nearby. An extensive highway network links Nakhon Ratchasima with smaller towns on the Khorat Plateau, and the city is a busy trading center for the region. Nakhon Ratchasima has a railroad service to Bangkok, the Thai national capital, and the railroad link between Bangkok and the Laotian border passes through the city (although the railroad does not cross into Laosl. The city's airport receives scheduled flights from other major Thai cities.


AN ANCIENT CITY

Nakhon Ratchasima has long been in a border region between the Thai and Lao cultures, and the city is home to a Lao minority. The region's principal historic monuments, however, date from the Khmer (Cambodian) Empire that ruled the region until the thirteenth century. The temples at Phimai (sometimes given as Pimai) near Nakhon Ratchasima resemble those of Angkor in Cambodia, only on a smaller scale. The eleventh-century ruins at Phimai are a major tourist attraction. Constructed from sandstone blocks, the site is rectangular and is the most important Khmer site in Thailand. The principal sanctuary, which has been restored, is a tower whose pyramidal roof is supported by terraces that are decorated with carvings of figures including garudus (guardians). Rows of carved Buddhas are depicted in royal costume. Phimai National Museum houses a collection of carvings and other items from the site.

In front of the historic west gate of Nakhon Ratchasima is a statue of Thao Suranari. the wife of a nineteenth-century regional governor. The statue commemorates her bravery in helping repel an invasion by a Lao army, and it is the scene of springtime celebrations in her honor. Other tourist attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima include the Wat Phra Narai Mahathat temple, which houses a sandstone figure of a Hindu god; the Maha Viravong National Museum, which has a collection of artifacts from the Khmer period and the Ayutthaya Thai kingdom; and the modern Wat Sala Loi temple. The temple of Wat Sala Loi, which has won many architectural awards, is constructed in the shape of a Chinese junk.

C. CARPENTER

-704-

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World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 5
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Country Locator for Volume 5 Myanmar and Thailand i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Geography and Climate 580
  • The Land of Myanmar and Thailand 582
  • Geology of Myanmar and Thailand 590
  • Climate of Myanmar and Thailand 594
  • Flora and Fauna of Thailand and Myanmar 598
  • History and Movement of Peoples 602
  • Sukhothai and Ayutthaya 604
  • Later Burmese Kingdoms 608
  • British Intervention in Burma 610
  • Peoples of Myanmar and Thailand 612
  • Myanmar (Burma) 614
  • Government 618
  • Modern History 620
  • War and Independence 623
  • Independent Burma 626
  • Modern Myanmar 628
  • Cultural Expression 630
  • Art and Architecture 632
  • Music and Performing Arts 636
  • Festivals and Ceremonies 638
  • Food and Drink 640
  • Daily Life 642
  • Family and Society 644
  • Welfare 646
  • Yangon (Rangoon) 648
  • Naypyidaw 650
  • Mandalay 651
  • Moulmein 652
  • Pegu 653
  • Economy 654
  • Thailand 662
  • Government 666
  • Modern History 668
  • Siam in Transition 670
  • The Age of Reform 672
  • War and Military Rule 674
  • Modern Thailand 676
  • Cultural Expression 678
  • Art and Architecture 680
  • Decorative Arts 683
  • Music and Performing Arts 684
  • Festivals and Ceremonies 687
  • Food and Drink 688
  • Daily Life 690
  • Family and Society 693
  • Health, Welfare, and Housing 695
  • Education 697
  • Bangkok 698
  • Chiang Mai 703
  • Nakhon Ratchasima 704
  • Udon Thani 705
  • Economy 706
  • Further Research 716
  • Index 718
  • World and Its Peoples 722
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