Angkor Wat – Angkorian Temple Dedicated to Vishnu
Angkor Wat (អង្គរវត្ត) is the world largest religious monuments which has been treated as the world’s most valuable heritage. Angkor Wat not only attractive to visitors around the world with its beauty, but also its perfection of construction architecture. Thus it has become Cambodia’s most preserved temple which attracted millions visitors every year. Angkor Wat represents the highest level of Khmer architecture and it has become a symbol of Cambodia, the only element appearing on the national flag of Cambodia.
Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century since the beginning of King Suryavarman II’s reign (1113-1150). It was built as his state temple and capital city. ‘Angkor Wat’ simply means ‘Temple of the capital’ which ‘Angkor’ is derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘city or capital’. ‘Wat’ is Khmer word for ‘temple’. Angkor Wat was originally built to dedicate to Hinduism, mainly Vishnu. It’s believed that Angkor Wat temple was designed by Divakarapandita, the chief adviser and minister of the king who was a Brahman with divine honors.
Angkor Wat’s orientation is different from other temples in the area which the main entrance is at the west, rather than the east. The bas reliefs are arranged for viewing from left to right which is a practice used in Hindu religious ceremonies for tombs. Because of this J.Przyluski, who studied about Angkor Wat, concluded that Angkor Wat is a tomb. For G. Ceodes, other researcher, claimed that Angkor Wat might be a tomb because of its main entrance is from the west, but Angkor Wat is no difference from other temple that it is the home of the king’s statue in the form of divinity. However, his conclusion was strongly claimed that Angkor Wat was funerary temple or mausoleum. In generally, Angkor Wat is accepted as a temple where the king worshiped to his Hindu gods and it was also a mausoleum for the king after his death.
The Reason to Move from Angkor
In the 14th century, the power of Khmer Empire had been fell down, due to less ability of the later King as well as the grow of its neighbor country, Siam, and they kept fighting Angkor many times. The first time Siamese control Angkor were between 1352 till 1375. And the second time was in 1393 for five months, which King Ponhea Yat (Borum Reachea II) chased them out.
The decision of moving from Angkor had been made in the reign of King Punhea Yat (1393-1463) with agreement from many royal officers. Because of the disturbance from Siam, many Khmer citizens had been arrested by Siam to their country and the amount of Khmer soldiers became deducted which cannot be ready to take a fight. So the first reason to move from Angkor is to retreat and regain power, in order to protect the country from Siam.
After leaving Angkor, King Ponhea Yat had chose Toul Basan (currently in Kampong Cham province) where his used to camp for building his military to get back Angkor from invading of Siam in 1393. However, after got back Angkor from Siam, the king didn’t reign at Angkor, but still came back to Toul Basan for one year. Toul Basan was a good place, but that year there was a flood which destroyed everything had been built. So once again, King Ponhea Yat had to move his capital to else where, and Chaktomuk (Phnom Penh) has been chose until now.
Prasat Pram (Five Towers)
Prasat Pram (Five Towers) is among the temples in Koh Ker Temple Group which was built during 921-941, in the reign of Jayavarman IV (928-941), when the capital of Khmer Empire was Koh Ker.
As we start our journey into ancient city Koh Ker from the south, the first temple we see is Prasat Pram.
Prasat Pram is a group of five towers in two rows, two at the front and three at the back. It’s surrounded by an enclosure made of laterite with an entrance door from the east. We can see the base of a cruciform terrace at the entrance of the temple, but we do not know that there was a gopura or not.
The five towers, one at the north east made by laterite, the rest are in brick. The two towers at the front line are face west, probably they are libraries. The other row has three shrines, this is could be dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma?
All the towers have only one entrance door, the other sides are false doors. The carvings on sandstone lintels and columns are equally impressive to other Angkorian temples. There are two towers occupied by the strangler fig. It’s created a spectacular scene of ancient temple and nature.
Preah Vihear Temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia
Preah Vihear Temple is one of the most significant Angkorian Temples in Cambodia. It’s also become the symbol and pride of Cambodia like Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap as well. The original name of Preah Vihear Temple was Sri Kirisvara, the name of Shiva linga which was dedicated in the main sanctuary of the mountain top. Despite the dispute over the ownership of the temple between Cambodia and Thailand, Preah Vihear Temple has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 7th 2008.
How to Access Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear Temple is located in Preah Vihear Province (the province has its name after Preah Vihear Temple), in northern of Cambodia which is now the border of Cambodia and Thailand.
Kleang Temples, Angkor Thom
Kleang Temples locates within Angkor Thom area, behind the 12 towers of Sour Prat Temple, facing the Elephant Terrace and the Leper King Terrace. Kleang Temple divided to North Kleang and South Kleang. These two buildings are similar in layout, style and decoration but they were constructed in different reign of Khmer kings.
North Kleang Temple
The North Kleang stands north of the road lead to Victory Gate, built in the reign of King Jayaviravarman (1002-1010). There are several inscription have been found in this temple talked about king Jayaviravarman. North Kleang is 40 m long from north to south, and 4.7 m from east to west. Its walls are 1.5 m thick. Originally, the temple had no tower, but it was added later when the North Kleang was divided into two parts. The temple could be entering from the east and the west, while there is no entrance from the other two sides.
South Kleang Temple
The South Kleang stands south of the road lead to Victory Gate. It’s built in the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-1049) and it’s an unfinished temple. The South Kleang is 4.2 m wide, smaller than North Kleang. The temple seemed built in hurry that it’s less carefully built and less in art style decoration.
The art style of these two temples, The North and South Kleang, has been considered as a principal style of Khmer art in its period, The Kleang Style. Many temples built in this style like Phimeanakas, Ta Keo.
Kleang means warehouse or storage which was thought to store the royal valuable items. However, according to its architechure, some researchers claimed that it served as the reception venue of foreign dignitaries.
Both North Kleang and South Kleang are in long rectangular structures with porches in cruciform placed in the center of the west and east walls which are decorated with windows of balusters. At the north and south walls each has a false door.
The central tower of the North Kleang, which was added later, has porches at the east and the west decorated with frontons and lintels.
Currently the east walls of these two temples are nearly completely collapsed, the condition of them is in ruin that visitors rarely find them interested.
Prasat Kuk Roka also named as Prasat Preah Theat Roka or Prasat Preah Theat Kampong Thom. It’s a late 10th century temple built in the reign of King Suryavarman I, dedicated to Hinduism. The prasat is made of sandstone and laterite, measured 6 meters long by 5 meters wide and 8 meter high. The architecture of Prasat Kuk Roka is set to be Khleng Style with one entrance from the east, at the other three directions are three false doors. The shape of the prasat is inclined or leaning at the west, by this the prasat get a name called Prasat Tret (inclined temple). I’m not sure that it was built in this form or it was inclined caused by any incident in the later time.
Phnom Chiso Temple is a historical site located on Chiso Mountain which is 130 meters high in Sla village, Roveang commune, Samrong district, Takeo province. Traveling from Phnom Penh by nation road number 2, passing Tonle Bati, Phnom Tamao, and Neang Khmao temple. It’s about 60 km from Phnom Penh and 27 km north of Takeo provincial.
Phnom Chiso temple has another name called Surya Paravata (the mountain of the Sun). It was built in early 11th century by three kings who worship Brahmanism. King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050) was the first king to build this temple. After his death, King Udeyaticvarman II continued the construction and King Suryavarman II was the last to finish Phnom Chiso temple.