Day 2 – the Angkor Temples

We did the twenty-six kilometre Grand Circuit on our second day into the ancient Khmer temples .  

The main lesson from the visit was that although Hindu and Buddhist beliefs lived in harmony, particularly under Jayavarman VII, the reality is that subsequent Kings had differing views and many religious artefacts were destroyed.

A figure of buddha covered in moss

The Tuk-tuk drove from our hotel in the centre of town to the Angkor Complex for a day of touring.

Preah Khan

The temple was built on the site of Jayavarman VII’s victory over the invading Chams in 1191. The Chams are the people of present day northern Vietnam.

The winged god and king of the eagles, Garuda, adorns the walls of the temple

 

The  moss covered entry way
The doors are designed large to small to force the entrant to bow to the King at the centre

 

Hindu figurines adorn the walls
Huge tree in the temple walls

 

Another huge tree on the temple wall
A massive tree is part of the temple
The entrance to the Temple (opposite to the side we entered)
Buddhist statues converted to look like Rishi prayer men
Two religions collide, the buddhist head removed but the linga, a symbol of Shiva, remains.
The Queen – preserved on the Hindu side of the temple
One temple down!
Two story building
The trees are white with a look of frost.
Colleen enjoys a moment of peace and solitude
A demon (asura) adorns one side of the bridge
Bhrama – the four headed Hindu god

 

One of the 102 rest houses built by Jayavarman VII

Neak Prean

The water is very shallow allowing growth throughout the area
Cambodian traditional music floats in the air by a victims of landmines musical group

 

Entrance to the Temple is on a wooden foot bridge that must be over 150m long

 

The temple has water on all sides
Reflection of the Temple in the water
The moat around the temple
The temple

Ta Som

Built at the end of the twelfth century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. According to the World Monuments Fund “the temple was likely dedicated to Jayavarman VII’s father, although some have speculated that it may have been dedicated to one of his teachers.”

The World Monuments Fund was the main partner with the Cambodian government to rebuild Ta Som between 1998 and 2012.  They estimate that the temple was purposefully destroyed during the fifteenth century and lay in ruin for several hundred years.

Avalokiteshvara (the bodhisattva of compassion) adorns the tower
Close-up of Avalokiteshvara (the bodhisattva of compassion)
The outer walls with intricate carvings on the inner temple
The yoni, symbolic of the womb, is a central area of worship particularly when accompanied with the linga which is a phallic looking symbol representing the god Shiva.
The outer tower on the far side of the temple

East Mebon

According to Art and Archeology website, this large (126m x 121m) temple complex was built by Rajendravarman (944-968) on an island in the middle of the East Baray. Yasovarman I (899-915) built the island and the bray. A Baray is a water reservoir. This particular one was 7.5 by 1.8 kilometers and holding over 50 million cubic meters of water according to wikipedia. It is now dry.

Entering the Temple area
An example of a false door
At the top of the Temple
In the temple behind me is a security guard who offers incense to honour the Buddha that is inside
Elephants are at each of the cardinal points of the temple
The holes in the temple wall were once filled with jewels according to a local guide
Close up of the Elephant
Ben and Emma share a ‘happy’ moment
Emma sits in front of the main Temple
The top of the Temple

Pre Rup

This temple lies due south of East Mebon by 800m and about 500m from the edge of the East Baray.  It is believed to have been built as the state temple of King Rajendravarman, and dedicated in 961.

A magnificent view awaits at the top
Just as we arrived the rain began. We enjoyed it as it brought some relief from the heat.
“None Shall Pass”. Ben waits at the bottom o the temple decked out in his rain poncho.
Local farmers use the flooded fields beside the temple.
Descending the Temple

Banteay Kdei

meaning “A Citadel of Chambers”, also known as “Citadel of Monks’ cells”, is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is outheast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII

The gate to Banteay Kdei
Buddha in a serene pose although the incense was overwhelming
Likely a jewel or precious stone was in the centre of the female deity or image of a Queen
A close up of the Yoni. It wasn’t until I visited the Angkor National Museum that I learned the significance of this relic.

Sras Srang

Due East of Banteay Kdei is the Sras Srang which  is a small Baray (750m by 300m) dug in the mid-10th century, by the initiative of Kavindrarimathana, Buddhist minister of Rajendravarman II. It was later modified around the year 1200 by Jayavarman VII, who also added the laterite landing-stage at its western side (which we stood on)

Look closely and you’ll see the ladder to climb the tree
Colleen stands on the landing to the Baray
The Naga with Garduda features prominently on the landing

 

End of the Day

Starting at 08:30 in the morning we ended at 14:30 with a Tuk-tuk ride to the market for lunch and a well deserved beer.  In 40 degree weather tramping around temples can become a little tiring even for the most hardy of historians.  Our last post on the Angkor Complex will include the temple of Banteay Srey and the Cambodian Landmine Museum.

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