– DECEMBER 03-09, 2015
Day 3 is a long one with many sites to visit. You really need the 3 day ticket here to see as many sites as possible when you visit Siem Reap.
Banteay Kdei means “A Citadel of Chambers” and is a Buddhist temple in Angkor. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII, it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.
This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings, and is now undergoing renovation. Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries until the 1960s.
The East Mebon is a 10th Century temple at Angkor. Built during the reign of King Rajendravarman, it stands on what was an artificial island at the center of the now dry East Baray reservoir.
The East Mebon was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and honors the parents of the king. Its location reflects Khmer architects’ concern with orientation and cardinal directions. The temple was built on a north-south axis with Rajendravarman’s state temple, Pre Rup, located about 1,200 meters to the south just outside the baray. The East Mebon also lies on an east-west axis with the palace temple Phimeanakas, another creation of Rajendravarman’s reign, located about 6,800 meters due west.
Built in the general style of Pre Rup, the East Mebon was dedicated in 953 AD. It has two enclosing walls and three tiers. It includes the full array of durable Khmer construction materials: sandstone, brick, laterite and stucco. At the top is a central tower on a square platform, surrounded by four smaller towers at the platform’s corners. The towers are of brick; holes that formerly anchored stucco are visible.
The sculpture at the East Mebon is varied and exceptional, including two-meter-high free-standing stone elephants at corners of the first and second tiers. Religious scenes include the god Indra atop his three-headed elephant Airavata, and Shiva on his mount, the sacred bull Nandi. Carving on lintels is particularly elegant.
Visitors looking out from the upper level today are left to imagine the vast expanses of water that formerly surrounded the temple. Four landing stages at the base give reminder that the temple was once reached by boat.
Pre Rup is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction. The temple’s name is a comparatively modern one meaning “turn the body“. This reflects the common belief among Cambodians that funerals were conducted at the temple, with the ashes of the body being ritually rotated in different directions as the service progressed.
Located just south of the East Baray, or eastern reservoir, Pre Rup is aligned on a north-south axis with the East Mebon temple, which is located on what was an artificial island in the baray. The East Mebon was also a creation of the reign of Rajendravarman. Pre Rup’s extensive laterite and brick give it a pleasing reddish tone that is heightened by early morning and late afternoon sunlight. The temple has a square lay-out and two perimeter walls. The outer enclosure is a platform bounded by a laterite wall. A laterite causeway gives entry from the east; unfortunately, a modern road cuts across it. The four external gopuras are cross-shaped, having a central brick section (consisting of three rooms flanked by two independent passageways) and a sandstone vestibule on both sides. To either side inside the eastern gate is a group of three towers aligned north to south. One of the towers appears to have never been built or to have been dismantled later, however they are later additions, probably by Jayavarman V. Further ahead, through another gate, libraries lie to either side of the walkway on the second platform. Just before the entrance there is a stone “cistern“, but scholars believe it was a basement for a Nandi bronze statue rather than being used for cremation ceremonies.
The final squared pyramid rises in three steep tiers to a square platform at the summit. The lowest tier is symmetrically surrounded by 12 small shrines. At the top, five towers are arranged in a quincunx, one at each corner of the square and one in the center. Deities carved as bas-reliefs stand guard at either side of the central tower’s eastern door; its other doors are false doors. The southwest tower once contained a statue of Lakshmi, the northwest tower a statue of Uma, the southeast tower a statue of Vishnu and the northeast tower a statue of Shiva. The last one has an inscription on doorjambs that dates from Jayavarman VI and is the only proof of his reign at Angkor. Pre Rup was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and it is probably located on a former shivaite ashram, built by Yasovarman I in the previous century.
Banteay Srei is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in Angkor, it lies near the main group of temples and Angkor Thom. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a “precious gem“, or the “jewel of Khmer art.”
Banteay Samré is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia located east of the East Baray. Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as the Banteay Srei.
ROLOUS GROUP – LOLEI
Lolei is the northernmost temple of the Roluos group of three late 9th century Hindu temples at Angkor (the others members of which are Preah Ko and the Bakong). Lolei was the last of the three temples to be built as part of the city of Hariharalaya that once flourished at Roluos, and in 893 the Khmer king Yasovarman I dedicated it to Shiva and to members of the royal family. The name “Lolei” is thought to be a modern corruption of the ancient name “Hariharalaya” which means “the city of Harihara.” Once an island temple, Lolei was located on an island slightly north of centre in the now dry Indratataka baray, construction of which had nearly been completed under Yasovarman’s father and predecessor Indravarman I. Scholars believe that placing the temple on an island in the middle of a body of water served to identify it symbolically with Mount Meru, home of the gods, which in Hindu mythology is surrounded by the world oceans.
Lolei consists of four brick temple towers grouped together on a terrace. The king build Lolei for his ancestors. One for his grandfather, one for his grandmother, one for his father, and one for his mother. The front two towers are for the males while the two towers at the back are for the females. The two taller towers are for his grandparents while the two shorter towers are for his parents. Originally, the towers were enclosed by an outer wall access through which was through a gopura, but neither wall nor gopura have survived to the present. Today, the temple is next to a monastery, just as in the 9th century it was next to an ashrama.
The temple towers are known for their decorative elements, including their false doors, their carved lintels, and their carved devatas and dvarapalas who flank both real and false doors. Some of the motifs represented in the lintels and other sandstone carvings are the sky-god Indra mounted on the elephant Airavata, serpent-like monsters called makaras, and multi-headed nagas.
ROLOUS GROUP – PREAH KO
Preah Ko was the first temple to be built in the ancient and now defunct city of Hariharalaya (in the area that today is called Roluos), some 15 kilometers south-east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia. The temple was built under the Khmer King Indravarman I in 879 to honor members of the king’s family, whom it places in relation with the Hindu deity Shiva.
Preah Ko (Sacred Bull) derives its name from the three statues of sandstone located in the front of and facing the temple’s central towers. These statues represent Nandi, the white bull who serves as the mount of Shiva.
After the Khmer king Jayavarman II founded the Khmer empire in 802 A.D., he finally established his capital at Hariharalaya, where he died. Indravarman I was the nephew of Jayavarman II. When he ascended to the throne, he ordered the construction first of Preah Ko, which was dedicated in 879, and later of the temple-mountain known as the Bakong. It is likely that this building program was made possible by the king’s peaceful reign and his ability to draw income from the expanding empire. A restoration of the towers took place in early 1990s, financed by German government
Preah Ko consists of six brick towers arranged in two rows of three towers each perched on a sandstone platform. The towers face east, and the front central tower is the tallest. The sanctuaries are dedicated to three divinized forefathers of Indravarman and their respective wives. The front central tower is dedicated to Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer empire. The tower to the left is dedicated to Prithivindreshvara, King Indravarman’s father; the tower to the right to Rudreshvara, his grandfather. The three rear towers are dedicated to the wives of these three men. The central towers all bear images of the Hindu god Shiva.
ROLOUS GROUP – BAKONG
Bakong is the first temple mountain of sandstone constructed by rulers of the Khmer empire at Angkor near modern Siem Reap in Cambodia. In the final decades of the 9th century AD, it served as the official state temple of King Indravarman I in the ancient city of Hariharalaya, located in an area that today is called Roluos.
The structure of Bakong took shape of stepped pyramid, popularly identified as temple mountain of early Khmer temple architecture. The striking similarity of the Bakong and Borobudur temple in Java, going into architectural details such as the gateways and stairs to the upper terraces, suggests strongly that Borobudur was served as the prototype of Bakong. There must have been exchanges of travelers, if not mission, between Khmer kingdom and the Sailendras in Java. Transmitting to Cambodia not only ideas, but also technical and architectural details of Borobudur, including arched gateways in corbelling method.
In 802 AD, the first king of Angkor Jayavarman II declared the sovereignty of Cambodia. After ups and downs, he established his capital at Hariharalaya. Few decades later, his successors constructed Bakong in stages as the first temple mountain of sandstone at Angkor. Bakong enjoyed its status as the state temple of Angkor for only a few years, but later additions from the 12th or 13th centuries testify that it was not abandoned. Toward the end of the 9th century, Indravarman’s son and successor Yasovarman I moved the capital from Hariharalaya to the area north of Siem Reap now known as Angkor, where he founded the new city of Yaśodharapura around a new temple mountain called Bakheng.
The site of Bakong consists of three concentric enclosures separated by two moats, the main axis going from east to west. The outer enclosure has neither a wall nor gopuram and its boundary is the outer moat, today only partially visibile. The current access road from NH6 leads at the edge of the second enclosure. The inner moat delimits a 400 by 300 metres area, with remains of a laterite wall and four cruciform gopuram, and it is crossed by a wide earthen causeway, flanked by seven-headed nāgas, such as a draft of nāga bridge. Between the two moats there are the remains of 22 satellite temples of brick. The innermost enclosure, bounded by a laterite wall, measures 160 metres by 120 metres and contains the central temple pyramid and eight brick temple towers, two on each side. A number of other smaller buildings are also located within the enclosure. Just outside of the eastern gopura there is a modern buddhist temple.
The pyramid itself has five levels and its base is 65 by 67 metres. It was reconstructed at the end of the 1930s. On the top there is a single tower that is much later in provenance, and the architectural style of which is not that of the 9th century foundations of Hariharalaya, but that of the 12th-century temple city Angkor Wat.
Though the pyramid at one time must have been covered with bas relief carvings in stucco, today only fragments remain. A dramatic scene-fragment involving what appear to be asuras in battle gives a sense of the likely high quality of the carvings. Large stone statues of elephants are positioned as guardians at the corners of the three lower levels of the pyramid. Statues of lions guard the stairways.
That wraps up our Angkor World Heritage Site tour…three days of dusk till dawn touring in a tuk tuk over bumpy roads (according to locals, the government in Cambodia will not fix the roads outside the major cities and thus they have pot holes the size of watermelons everywhere) and hiking through intense and humid heat. It was worth it.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.