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Temples At Vong Thom (Grand Circuit)

The temples at Vong Thom include the temples along the road from Srah Srong to Day Chhang Gate. Pre Rup Temple Pre Rup temple is about 2 kilometers northeast of Srah Srang and about 500 meters south of the East Baray. The temple was built in 961 during the reign of King Rajendravarman, dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. The boldness of the architectural design is superb and gives the temple fine balance, scale and proportion. The temple is close in style to the East Mebon, although it was built several years later. It is a temple-mountain symbolizing Mount Meru. Up until now, Cambodians regards this temple as having funerary association, but its true function is uncertain. Nevertheless, the name Pre Rup recalls one of the rituals of cremation, in which the silhouette of the body of the decease, outlined with its ashes, is successively represented according to different orientations. Some archaeologists believe that the large vat located at the base of the east stairway to the central area was used at cremations. Constructed of laterite with brick towers, the plan is square and comprises two ramparts with gopuras placed centrally in each wall. A platform of three narrow tiers serves as a pedestal for five towers, which are set out in quincunx-one in each corner and one in the center. The outer rampart is 127 by 116 meters. Within the out laterite rampart there are two groups of three towers on each side of the entrance; the groups share a common base. Long halls are placed between the two ramparts. In the northeast corner there is a curious small square building built of large blocks of laterite and open on all four sides. The inscription describing the foundation of the temple was found near this building. On the left and right sides of the east gopura of the second rampart there are libraries with high towers. They sheltered carved stones with motifs of the nine planets and the seven ascetics. In the center there is a vat between two rows of sandstone pillars. This platform was more likely to have been a base for a wooden structure or a platform for Shiva’s mount Nandi. Top Temple Top temple is located about 500 meters south of Pre Rup temple and north of Bor Em Village. According to old villagers, particularly those in Prakak commune, this temple was originally called Damkol Sob, as related to the story of King Trasok Paem. Leak Neang Temple Leak Neang temple is located near the northwest part of Pre Rup temple, about 100 meters east of the entrance to Ta Prey village. Constructed of brick, the temple faces east. It was built in the second half of the 10th century in AD 960, by King Rajendravarman.  East Mebon Temple East Mebon temple is about 500 meters northeast of Pre Rup temple. The temple was built in AD 952 by King Rajendravarman. The temple is similar to Pre Rup in plan, construction and decoration. A major difference, however, is that the East Mebon once stood on a small island in the middle of Yasodharatataka (the East Baray). The only access was by boat to one of the four landing platform, situated at the mid-points on each of the four sides of the temple. The decoration on the lintels of the temple is superior in quality of workmanship and composition to that of Pre Rup. The motifs on the false doors, with small mythical figures frolic king amongst foliage, are particularly fine. Ta Som Temple Ta Som temple is located east of Neak Pean. It was built in early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII, dedicating to his father. A significant feature of Ta Som is the growth of a huge ficus tree on the east gopura, which provides a dramatic example of nature and art entwined. The temple is a single shrine on one level surrounded by three laterite ramparts. The superstructure are carved with four faced. The main tower is cruciform shaped with four porches. Kraol Ko Temple Kraol Ko temple is located north of Neak Pean about 900 meters off the right side of the road. The temple was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The main point of interest of the temple is the frontons on the ground. Two outstanding examples depict a Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara standing on a lotus, flanked by devotees, and a strongly modeled scene of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana to shelter the shepherds. The temple is a single tower surrounded by tow laterite ramparts with a gopura at the east and a moat enclosing it with steps leading down to the water. A library built of laterite and sandstone opening to the south is on the left of the interior courtyard. The central sanctuary stands on cruciform terrace.

Neak Pean Temple:

Neak Pean temple is located east of Preah Khan and about 300 meters off the road. The temple is in the center of Jayatataka or Northern Baray and placed on the same axis as Preah Khan. It was built in the second half of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The temple seems to have served as a place where pilgrims could go and take the waters, both physically and symbolically-the Khmer equivalent of a spa. The central pond is a replica of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, situated at the top of the universe, which gives birth to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are represented at Neak Pean by sculpted gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points. Neak Pean was probably consecrated to the Buddha coming to the glory of enlightenment. Neak Pean temple is set in a large, square, ma-made pond which is 70 meters square bordered by steps and surrounded by four smaller square ponds. A small circular island, with a steeped base of seven laterite tiers, is in the center of the large square pond, and forms the base for the shrine dedicated to Avalokitshavara. Small elephants sculpted in the round originally stood on the four corners of the pond. The bodies of two nagas encircle the base of the island and their tails entwine on the west side which give the temple name. The heads of the nagas are separated to allow passage on the east. A blooming lotus surrounds the top of the platform, while lotus petals decorate the base. The central sanctuary is cruciform shaped, stands on two recessed levels, opens to the east and is crowned with a lotus. The three other false doors are decorated with large image of Avalokiteshvara. The fronton depict episodes of the life of the Buddha-the cutting of the hair (east), the great departure (north), Buddha in meditation protected by a naga (west). The Principal feature in the pond of the central sanctuary is a three-dimensional sculpted horse swimming towards the east with figures clinging to its sides. The horse, Balaha, is a manifestation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who has transformed himself into a horse to rescue Simhala, a merchant, and his companions of misfortune. They were shipwrecked on an island off Sri Lanka and snatched by female ogresses. The victims are holding on to the horse’s tail in the hope of being carried ashore safely. There are four small chambers which have vaulted roofs and back onto the main pond, then open onto four small ponds with steps leading to the water. The interior of the vault is decorated with panels of lotus and a central waterspout in the form of an animal or human in the center. The four building served a ceremonial function, where pilgrims could absolve themselves of their sins. They anointed themselves with lustral water, which flowed from the spout connected to the central pond. Each water spout is different-elephant head (north), human head (east), lion (south) and horse (west). The human head is of exceptionally fine quality workmanship and was coined the Lord of Men.

Preah Khan Temple

Preah Khan temple is located 2 kilometers north-east of Angkor Thom on the Grand Circuit. The temple was built in the second half of the 12th century in AD 1191 by King Jayavarman VII, dedicating to his father Dharanindravarman. The Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares served as the nucleus of a group that includes Neak Pean and Ta Som, located 4 kilometers long Jayatataka Baray-the last of the great reservoirs to be built in Angkor. The inscription indicates that Preah Khan was built on the battle site where King Jayavarman VII finally defeated the Chams. In those days it was known as Nagarajayacri which mean the city of Preah Khan. Four concentric ramparts subdivide Preah Khan. The outer or fourth wall, which is encircled by a wide moat, today encloses a large tract of jungle, formerly the living quarters of the monks, students and attendants of Preah khan. The second rampart delineated the principle religious compound of about four hectares within which there is a dense concentration of temple and shrines. The central complex is Buddhist. The north and western sectors are dedicated to Brahmanism-Vishbu (west) and Shiva (north), whilst the southern sector is a place of ancestor worship. The eastern sector forms the grand entrance to the central shrine. A place for a king located near Preah khan temple is called Veal Reacheak or Prea Reachea Dak. It is 1,500 meters long and 1,200 meters wide, nearby about 700 meters north of Preah khan temple along the road to Angkor Thom district is another small temple called Ptu. The temple was made of laterite. West Baray West Baray is the largest man-made body of water at Angkor. Visitors can hire a boat to take them to the island in the middle where West Mebon temple once stood. Today, only traces of it remain. But the island is a pleasant spot for a picnic or just walking around when water level is low. Alternatively, visitor can also go for a refreshing swim. As the temple in the middle is in the same style as Baphuon, the Baray was probably constructed in the 11th century. The east dyke leads to Ba kheng temple. Some historian believed that the West Baray could have been a mooring place for the royal barges as well as a reservoir and a place for breeding fish. The West Baray is a vast man-made lake, surrounded by an earthen levee which forms a dyke. According to legend, the young daughter of a ruler of Angkor was grabbled by an enormous crocodile, which made a large opening in the south dyke of the West Baray that can still be seen today. The crocodile was capture and killed. The princess, still living in its stomach, was rescued. West Mebon Baray West Mebon temple is located in the middle of West Baray on an island about 11 kilometers northwest of Siem Reap. The temple was built in the second half of the 11th century by King Suryavarman I, dedicating to Vishu Brahmanism. It was originally surrounded by a square rampart with three squares, sandstone gopuras and a sanctuary on one level crowned with a lotus. Most towers have collapsed, but the three on the east side are reasonably intact. A sandstone platform at the center is linked to a causeway of laterite and sandstone that leads to the east dyke. The sides of the towers are carved with lively animals set in small square, a type of decoration found also at the Baphuon. Ak Yum Temple Ak Yum Temple is located southern end of the West Baray. The temple was built between 7th and 9th centuries. The inscriptions found on pillars give the date of AD 609, 704 and 1001 from Ak Yum temple. Evidence of a lingam and some sacred depository has also been found. During the construction of the West Baray this site was partially buried by the south levee of the Baray. The temple was built on three levels standing on a platform and enclosed by a brick wall. The monument was built of brick with sandstone bays. Four shrines occupied the corners of the second tier and two others stood on each side, making a total of twelve shrines. The central sanctuary was on the uppermost tier and opened to the east with false doors on the other three sides. Post holes are still visible and were probably used to support a wooden framework for the monument.

 

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