Cambodia … Siem Reap …. the words remind us of magnificent temple of Angkor Wat. One of the unique sculptures built by Hindu Kings outside India.
Did you know that there are at least 10 temples around Siem Reap village that are equally beautiful, unique but relatively smaller in size?! Craftsmanship in these temples is as splendid as Angkor, perhaps even better at some places! Incidents from Hindu scriptures (Purana) are engraved everywhere. They are equally rich in intricate carvings like images of deities, characters and inscriptions.
Siem Reap (defeat of Siam1) is literally a living exposition of world class temples. These temples have been constructed during the reign of Hindu Kings like Rajendravarman, Jayavarman and others. Let’s explore a few masterpieces out of them.
Banteay Srei (Read about it in a separate article here)
Banteay Kdei (A citadel of chambers). A mid-12th century temple with its name originating from ‘Kuti’ (abode). It’s a relatively new temple built by Jayavarman VII occupied by Buddhist monks till late 1950s. The style resembles Bayon architecture with the famous face tower featured at the entrance. The temple has been under restoration through different institutions.
Pre Rup ( turn the body2 ) is a Hindu temple built by Khmer king Rajendravarman during early 962. It’s a combination of mounted bricks, laterite and sandstone. These provide an amazingly roseate glow to the temple during sunrise and sunset. The ruins itself are so stunning, you can just imagine the divine feeling of witnessing the sunshine during the actual days of its glory! The square shape structure includes towers at 4 corners and centre as well. Each tower bears a statue of a deity it is dedicated to – Lakshmi, Vishnu, Shiva and Uma (Parvati). Tourists flock this place during early morning and evening hours to enjoy the bliss of sunshine. Truly an exquisite site to be!
A less known, less visited miniscule 10th century wonder dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A simple but graceful structure with five towers on a common terrace, built in reddish bricks. 5 beautiful bas-reliefs make this a delightful experience with an inscription on the frame.
The bas-reliefs depict Lord Vishnu with multiple incarnations.
Riding his Garuda
Four Armed Lord Vishnu
Eight Armed Lord Vishnu
A Goddess holding weaponry identity of Lord Shiva (Trident) and Vishnu (Discus)
Goddess Lakshmi (Kamala) holding Lotuses.
Ta Prohm (Ancestor Brahma) a monastery far more majestic and revered than its contemporary identity as a location in the movie Tomb Raider! Its originally known as Raj Vihara (Royal Monastery). Constructed in the Bayon style during the reign of Jayavarman VII in 12th century. It is said that this monastery and university used to be home to around 12500 people including 18 high priests and over 600 dancers. Today trees engulfing these ruins have become a unique identity of the temple. However, it is creating issues in restoring the heritage. Majority of its restoration is conducted by Archaeological Survey of India! Ta Prohm today is one of the most visited temples in the region.
1) Defeat of Siam – Legends say that the name was given by Khmer King Ang Chan after he defeated Thai Army sent to invade Cambodia in 1549. There is a difference of opinion about this amongst scholars.
2) Turn the Body – It is said that this refers to rotating ashes while performing post funeral rites at a temple in Cambodian culture.
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